When the "Krewe of Little Rascals" Children's Parade rolls through downtown Pascagoula at noon this Saturday, it kicks off one of my favorite seasons on the Coast.
I am a native Mobilian. As such, I have a certain affinity for Mardi Gras - an organized celebration of Carnival has taken place in Mobile since 1703.
And so it is with great pomp and fanfare (drumroll, please) that I share my five favorite things about Carnival:
- King cake. Whether its from Pauls Pastry Shop in Picayune or Andersons Bakery in Pascagoula, its part of the tradition of the season to share a king cake. And if you get the little plastic baby, you get to buy the next one. As if king cake wasnt good enough, with its cream cheese and fruity filling, dang if Crazy Bs Coffee and Confections in Pascagoula didnt go and start making king cake balls. Oh, yeah. Like donut holes, but better. Purple, green and yellow. And glittery. And did I say better than donut holes? And while were talking about food
- Moonpies: I dont eat Moonpies any other time of the year, but I love catching the little chocolate ones in the silver wrappers. And banana is pretty good, too. Then the masked krewe members started throwing orange, chocolate mint, peanut butter and coconut Moonpies. And sometimes they even throw a double-decker. Its a wild world of Mardi Gras throws out there. You can catch beads. Or doubloons. Or cups (I like the cups). Or stuffed animals or big plastic sunglasses. Or all manner of other trinkets. But, the best catch, for me, is still a Moonpie.
- Joe Cain Day: The Sunday before Fat Tuesday is Joe Cain Day in Mobile, set aside to celebrate the man who revived Mobile Mardi Gras in 1866 after the Civil War. The story goes that Joe Cain paraded through the streets of downtown, dressed as a Chickasaw chief he named Slacabamorinico (you can Google it). He was joined by other Confederate veterans who paraded in a coal wagon and called themselves the Lost Cause Minstrels. The Joe Cain procession is the Peoples Parade. Its not held by a mystic society like other parades, but is open to an array of groups. Being downtown on Joe Cain Day is a chance to see old friends, catch a lot of throws and act a little crazy, which brings me to ...
- Its okay to act a little crazy. Wear a mask, dont wear a mask. Wear a hat. Wear whatever you want. Wear beads. Trade beads. Yell for stuff you wouldnt pay for in a store. Hang out with a completely different crowd. Doesnt matter. Youre all friends by the time the parade rolls by. Because by then youve eaten together, drank together, enjoyed the parade and most likely danced in the street together. Which brings me to ...
- Its okay to dance in the street. Except not on the wrong side of the barricade. Dont do that or youll pay a big fat fine. But otherwise, if there is music playing (and there is always music playing during Mardi Gras), there are people dancing in the street. Last year I walked from my place to the Pascagoula parade on Ingalls Avenue where one group of revelers had a DJ. They were doing all kinds of line dances. And, yes, I joined in for a couple. It was a blast. But, it doesnt have to be line dancing. It doesnt matter what kind of dancing. It doesnt matter if youre terrible at dancing (think Elaine from Seinfeld). Doesnt matter. You can dance if you want to. You can leave your friends behind. Cause your friends dont dance and if they dont dance well you get the picture.
And so it is time, once again, to enjoy a festive Carnival season. Have fun. Be safe. And laissez les bon temps rouler.
Other Jackson County parades:
FEB. 15 - Ocean Springs Elks Mardi Gras Parade: 1 p.m., Route begins Front Beach to Porter Avenue to Washington to Government ending at Holcomb Boulevard.
FEB. 22 - Moss Point Mardi Gras parade: 1 p.m. Route is along Main Street. - Mystic Krewe of Pine Island Parade: 1:30 p.m. Route will begin at the South end of Johns Bayou Road and goes to Marina Road in Vancleave and returns. - Gautier Men's Club Parade: 7 p.m. Route will begin from the Jackson County Campus of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College on U.S. 90 to loop around Singing River Mall and back to the college.
FEB. 28 - Ocean Springs Carnival Association Parade: 7 p.m. Route begins Front Beach to Porter Avenue to Washington to Government ending at Holcomb Boulevard.
MARCH 1 - Jackson County Parade Association: 1 p.m. Route starts at Ingalls Avenue left on Market Street left on Jackson Avenue and left on Pascagoula Street in Pascagoula.