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The Best Mardi Gras Parades Beyond New Orleans | Travel

Mardi Gras in Mobile Alabama

Mobile, Alabama is considered by many to be the birthplace of Mardi Gras.
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Tossing “throws” out to spectators from the bed of a Mardi Gras float is an art form I learned while riding in this year’s Krewe of Dionysus Parade in Slidell, Louisiana. Our procession of 18 floats rolled for several hours through the city’s downtown, each float decorated with colorful displays showcasing Batman, Elvis and the California Raisins, accompanied by marching bands, festival queens and more. Thousands of people lined the sidewalks, some sitting in chairs simply waiting for the next bead necklace, commemorative plastic cup or custom-printed drink koozie to sail their way. Others approached the float sides to grab the freebies, which also included cheap sunglasses and mini bottles of hand sanitizer. Small kids and adults with toddlers perched on their shoulders all beckoned for the festive prizes with their wide eyes. It’s a balance, for sure. With the constant cries of “Throw me something!” ringing in the air, no parade participant wants to be left with a ton of extra throws at the end of the ride, but you don’t want to be the float that runs out of them, either.

New Orleans is synonymous with Mardi Gras, aka Fat Tuesday, and the parades, balls and other festivities associated with it. But Carnival season—which has its roots in Catholicism and runs from Three Kings Day (January 6) until the day before Lent (February 21, this year)—is celebrated everywhere from Lake Charles, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama.

“Each area has its own twists and traditions,” says Nealy Frentz, pastry chef and co-proprietor of LOLA Restaurant in Louisiana’s Northshore region, “and our celebrations have been increasing in size and scope over the years. You don’t even need to go to New Orleans anymore.”

Frentz is a member of the Krewe of Eve, an all-female krewe in the Northshore town of Mandeville. “Krewes” are social organizations that host Mardi Gras and Carnival festivities throughout Louisiana and the wider Gulf Coast. As is tradition, the Krewe of Eve’s parade, as well as its floats and costumes, are centered around a theme. For 2023, that theme was “We Go Together Like.” Frentz says, “One float chose to focus on wine and cheese, another on milk and…

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