Most of the country is celebrating Valentine’s Day this week, but in some cities on the Main Streets Across America, this week – well, this month! – is more about Mardi Gras.
Mobile, Alabama, holds the distinction of staging the first Mardi Gras celebration in North America.
And by now, Mardi Gras has been going on for a week all across Mobile.
That’s because Mobile takes this celebration so seriously. The very first observance of Mardi Gras took place in 1703 in Mobile, which was the capital of colonial French Louisiana.
That rich history is very much alive on so many streets and beautiful tree-lined squares throughout town. But it’s down Government Street, leading west from the banks of the Mobile River, that pretty much every one of the city’s unique Mardi Gras parades passes.
Government Street is a central point of reference for Mobile. It’s home to the Mobile Carnival Museum, celebrating all that is Mobile’s Mardi Gras, and it’s right in the heart of the parade routes.
Mobile may be the oldest Mardi Gras anywhere in America, but it is far from the only one.
In Opelousas, Louisiana, another of our Main Streets Across America, there are annual Mardi Gras festivities. Many of them take place at the Civic Center near Main Street and feature the Half-Fast Krewe of Frank Mardi Gras Parade through the downtown area.
And the city that is practically synonymous with Mardi Gras, New Orleans, is world famous for its Mardi Gras celebrations. Our Main Streets Across America street in the Big Easy in 2016 was St. Charles Avenue.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans is focused, at least for the tourists, across Canal Street from St. Charles Avenue in the French Quarter. But St. Charles Avenue is just as well known for its clubs, restaurants, and nightspots, with many featuring the diversity of live music that fuels the city’s rollicking nighttime energy. For more than 150 years, Lafayette Square here has been a popular site for concerts by jazz bands, school groups and other ensembles.
As they might say in New Orleans, Opelousas or Mobile, laissez les bons temps rouler – let the good times roll.