Discover this unique Mardi Gras celebration you’ll only find in Mobile—plan now for the ultimate party, Feb. 19


VM MardiGras JC18 VStill 007 Discover this unique Mardi Gras celebration you'll only find in Mobile—plan now for the ultimate party, Feb. 19
There’s no place like Mobile for Mardi Gras celebrations. (Visit Mobile)

Mardi Gras season is upon us and there’s no better place to celebrate than where it all began. If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind experience, plan now to make the easy trip to Mobile for Joe Cain Day on February 19. Read on to discover more about this locally-cherished holiday and why you need to get in on the fun this year.

What is Joe Cain Day?

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In case you aren’t familiar, let me fill you in on the unique celebration that is Joe Cain Day, including the man behind the holiday.

Joe Cain Day is an annual Mobile celebration that takes place on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday. The festive day is held in honor of Mobile native Joe Cain, who’s responsible for reviving the carnival-style Mardi Gras celebration the city is well-known for today.

On Fat Tuesday in 1866, Cain donned a plaid skirt and headdress and paraded around the streets as a fictional Native American chief in a rebellious procession.

Since then, Joe Cain Day has become a long-standing cherished tradition for Mobilians and visitors alike.

Experience countless unique traditions

In Mobile, Mardi Gras is a family-friendly time full of parties, balls, parades and revelry. The quirky traditions surrounding Joe Cain Day are part of what makes the special day so charming. Whether you’re a seasoned Mardi Gras reveler or planning your first time, here’s the rundown on what you’ll experience:

The People’s Parade
Mobile parade
Join the party. (Visit Mobile)

This eccentric parade is one of Mobile’s longest Mardi Gras parades and commemorates Joe Cain’s role in reviving Mardi Gras. To locals, the People’s Parade is a fan-favorite event of the season, especially since everyone can join in the fun.

From flatbed trucks and wagons to folks walking and dancing on foot, the beauty of the People’s Parade is that anybody can don a homemade costume, throw some goodies and become a part of it all.

Merry Widows + Merry Mistresses
Joe Cain Day
A unique Mobile tradition. (Visit Mobile)

Another fun part of Joe Cain Day is the appearance of a mystic group called the Merry Widows. Dressed in black from head to toe, this group consists of about 20 “widows” that conceal their true identities and hilariously bicker over which of them Joe loved most.

Using character names like Sue Ellen, Scarlet, Emmy Lou, Pearl and Tara, they make several appearances downtown during the day.

Gather around as they begin their journey at the Church Street Graveyard to wail over Cain’s grave and toss their signature black wares like beads, roses and garters for you to catch. Psst… these are some of the most coveted items one can grab during Mobile Mardi Gras. 

Then, follow them as they visit the Joe Cain house on Augusta Street to toast his memory before the People’s Parade begins.

BONUS: Not to be confused with each other, keep an eye out for the Merry Mistresses as well. They’re hard to miss in their bright red gowns as they pass roses out to the crowd.

Ready to immerse yourself in a new tradition? Plan your trip to Mobile today.

Mardi Gras Parade Schedule

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Get ready to catch some beads! (Visit Mobile)

From extravagant floats to flying MoonPies, Mobile sure knows how to celebrate Mardi Gras. Here’s where you can find a spot and watch a parade march by this season:

Sunday, February, 19 – Joe Cain Day
Monday, February 20 – Lundi Gras
Tuesday, February 21 – Fat Tuesday

More than 40 Mardi Gras parades are taking place in Mobile throughout February, and you can even catch some twice! Explore the full list here.

In Mobile, every day is a party. Check out Visit Mobile and follow them on Instagram and Facebook for tips and tricks on planning your next trip.

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Gabby Gervais
Gabby Gervais
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