Now that the Holidays are over, it is easy for our minds to wander to thoughts of spring time along the Gulf Coast. Before we get to the long spring afternoon floating in the surf, anchored on Sand Island, We must brave the last throes of our stinted Wintertime. Usually one of the last weeks of our Winter time is Dauphin Island’s Annual Mardi Gras Celebration.
The two Island parades are the first two of the entire Mardi Gras Season and serve as a warm-up for the larger and older parades in Mobile. Make no mistake, Mardi Gras was first celebrated in the new world in Mobile, Alabama. Some years later the originators of America’s first Mardi Gras took the tradition to their neighbors in New Orleans and helped form the societies. In all fairness, Mobile & Dauphin Island were part of Louisiana at the time of the first Celebration, so everyone can claim a Win!
New Orleans & Mobile’s Parades are bigger and older, But Dauphin Island’s are my favorite. Here’s why:
- Park in the middle of the road- Ok, so please don’t really park in the middle of the traffic lane, but you are welcome to park in the median on Bienville Blvd. The whole parade route fills up and becomes a tailgate city of sorts. Parade enthusiasts start staking their spots out several days ahead of time. Using caution tape and lawn chairs to designate your turf is perfectly normal. On parade day, bring your party gear and set up in your spot! Grills, coolers, cookers, lawn furniture, tents and decorations are all normal and expected. Please tidy up and take everything with you when you go!
- We are the Family Friendliest Mardi Gras anywhere- You won’t find a family friendlier parade atmosphere anywhere! There is plenty of room for the kids to run around while they wait for the parade. Remember to try to stake out a good spot and bring something to entertain the kids while you are waiting for the parade. If you come early enough, consider walking down to the Estuarium or Fort Gaines for an excursion. It is not out of the question for it to be beach weather after the parade. It won’t be swimming weather, but building sandcastles is still fun! You just never know what the weather will be like.
- The Bicycle Parade is almost as good as the real one! No, seriously, plan to get here early, or plan to stay late. Get a group on bicycles and cruise the Island. Yes, there will be RECORD-SETTING-People-Watching opportunities. Bring a back pack. If you are going to do this right, bring a little cash to stop in the local establishments.
- Bring Your Dog! Dogs on leashes are welcome. There are “pet clean-up bag” Stations along Bienville Blvd. Don’t forget to bring some water for the dogs! It is not uncommon for people on the floats to throw treats for your dog!
- It really is better if you stay. The party the night before is usually epic and it’s a long drive anywhere after a day reveling in the streets. Don’t let the fact that I work for a real estate company misguide you. Yes, you can rent a house from us. Yes, I would, in fact, be glad to sell you a home on or near the parade route. But the truth is, it really is better to stay the weekend and have the time to really enjoy Mardi Gras, Dauphin Island Style!