Over the weekend in the Mobile Bay, Alabama, and in Slidell, Louisiana the first parades of the 2016 Mardi Gras season rolled.
The Krewe de la Dauphine rolled on Mobile Bay’s historic Dauphine Island. The parade was delayed due to thunder showers in the morning. By the postponed time of 2 p.m. on Saturday January 9, 2016, the sun was shining with blue skies over the rain drenched island.
The theme of the 2016 Krewe de la Dauphine parade was Broadway Nights and the floats included nods to greats like Cats, Peter Pan, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Due to the rain, the island wasn’t as packed with as many parade goers as last year, but for those that made it, there was more swag to drag home.
For some of the South Alabama Trikers it was a bittersweet ride. One of their regulars, a 16 year veteran of the ride named Spud Lee, rode his last parade in 2015. Spud Lee, a Parson Russell Terrier from Axis, Alabama, would ride on a University of Alabama themed trike with his owners Billy and Gwen Lister. Spud Lee’s successor, a sweet Jack Russell Terrier named Rooster, rode his first Krewe de la Dauphine parade on Saturday and we wish him many more.
Over in Slidell, Louisiana on the chilly, Sunday afternoon, Mayor and Mrs. Freddy Drennen were celebrating Slidell’s first Parades of the 2016 Mardi Gras season by toasting the Krewe of Claude and the Krewe of Poseidon.
The Krewe of Claude was the first Mardi Gras parade of the 2016 Mardi Gras season to roll in the New Orleans area. Their theme was “Remembering The Past, Celebrating The Present, Embracing The Future.” Embracing the Future included welcoming the first year Krewe of Poseidon to share the street with them.
As suits Poseidon and his mermaids, the floats were aquatic themed. Former New Orleans Saints Quarterback and sports broadcaster, John Fourcade was the Grand Marshall.
Sunday afternoon was this writer’s first experience of parades in Slidell and there were a few things that set it apart from other parades. Perhaps the most unusual was that there were garbage barrels along the streets with signs that read, “Keep Slidell Beautiful – A Total Community Effort” and the folks actually used them. Even without street sweepers, following the parade the street was cleaner than many city streets.
The parade goers, police, and other officials were quite welcoming and friendly. When a spectator was injured by an overstuffed bag of beads tossed by a passing float, a Dr. ran across the road to tend to them. So there were lots of friendly folks in Slidell on hand for fun parades as well as to lend a helping hand when needed.
The Mardi Gras season spreads even more along the gulf coast this weekend. On Saturday January 16, in addition to the Island Mystics on Dauphin Island and the Order of the Rolling River just to the north on Dauphin Island Parkway, the 5th Annual Caerus Mardi Gras Parade will roll around the University of Southern Mississippi campus in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and the 26th Annual Orange Grove Carnival Association Mardi Gras Parade will roll in Gulfport, Mississippi. On Sunday January 17, the Krewe of Slidellians will roll in Slidell at 1 p.m.
Readers who are only familiar with Mardi Gras in New Orleans are probably wondering why New Orleans hasn’t yet been mentioned. Many don’t know that there are scores of Mardi Gras parades and celebrations along the gulf coast from Galveston, Texas to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida and many are weeks in advance of the well known parades of Uptown New Orleans. The first official Mardi Gras parade of Uptown New Orleans is the Oshun parade on January 29, 2016, a full twenty days after Mobile Bay’s Krewe de la Dauphine. Laissez les bons temps roulez – let the good times roll, and they will all along the gulf coast as well as St. Louis, MO and many other locations around the world!