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Mobile Carnival Museum…

Posted by on June 19, 2016


mobileABOUT AN HOUR’S DRIVE FROM PENSACOLA. Since arriving in the southern states, we’ve both wanted to see the Carnival Museum in Mobile. Fun for the entire family, like the Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It’s a small yet renowned museum in Alabama with an extensive collection of Mardi Gras memorabilia-a place where the history of Catholicism in the deep South comes alive. And  where the genesis of this popular holiday called Maris Gras is explained. We decided to make the 2 hour round trip drive to see this special place. “We can easily do it in a day,” we thought. The day had finally come. Want to join us? Good, let’s go!


Mardi Gras Mask on Display.

A LITTLE KNOWN FACT. The city of Mobile lives up to its motto: “over the top but under the radar.” And especially for Mardi Gras which is also known as Fat Tuesday, the day of revelry before the austerity of Lent. Mobilians are quick to brag, “We were the first Mardi Gras in America.” It’s true. This gargantuan celebration was first held at Mobile in 1840. I’m guessing that most of you didn’t know that. I thought it was a New Orleans exclusive. Not so. Read on…

MOBILE CARNIVAL MUSEUM. The Mobile Carnival Museum opened in 2005 to rave reviews. We could easily see why, as we walked to the entrance on Government Street. Unlike so many museums housed in nondescript buildings, this collection is contained in a Southern-style two story period house. A little history: The concept of a museum totally dedicated to Mardi Gras had been a goal of native Mobilians for years. So committee was formed and a volunteer effort of historians, artists, lawyers, businessmen, architects, contractors, and seamstresses all gave their time and talents to get the museum established. Families of monarchs donated royal robes, crowns and scepters. Members of local mystic organizations donated emblem costumes, favors and doubloons. The effort bore fruit and today the collections are beautifully displayed throughout the museum.

WHAT’S INSIDE. The museum offers 14 gallery rooms, a pictorial hallway, theater, a social gathering den area and a gift shop. The home is registered as a historic building and affords visitors an opportunity to enjoy detailed crown molding, pine floors and exquisite chandeliers. What’s not to like about this place? We’ve visited lots of nifty museums along the way, but this one tops them all.


Entrance to the Carnival Museum on Government Street in Mobile, Alabama.

WOULDN’T THIS BE FUN. One more bit of information about the Museum before we get started on a tour, so we can offer some really good photos for you. It’s also available for private parties at a very reasonable price. If I lived in the area and had lots of friends to invite for an evening of fun, I’d rent this place in a heartbeat. And if I were still practicing law, it would be a legitimate entertainment expense as an income tax deduction. In retirement, if I were a “Mobilian,” I’d become a volunteer docent for sure.


Original artwork contributed by an artist in Mobile to the Museum of Celebration. Everyone in town participates one way or another each year, much like the internationally acclaimed Passion Play held every ten years in Obermanneragu, Bavaria, Germany. My photo is not clear, because there is reflection from the glass. If I demanded photographic perfection of myself for every image I insert on posts to my blog I’d have far fewer photos to show you. It’s a deliberate compromise. 

PRIVATE PARTY DETAILS. Because I’m fascinated and also because some of you may live in this area and might want to throw a party at the Museum, here are a few of the details. For an evening party or fundraiser, the flat fee is only $1,500.00. You simply couldn’t do any better. You’d hire a caterer and a bartender and “voila,” you would truly have the makings of a memorable evening. Here’s what’s included:

  • Full access throughout the museum,
  • Tour guides,
  • Use of the den area, parking lot and adjacent grounds,
  • Use of facility inventory,
  • An event coordinator,
  • On-site supervisor,
  • Gift shop attendant (if requested),
  • One security guard from the Mobile Police Department and
  • Cleaning before and after event. Wow!


If I’d been able to hold my firm’s annual office party in the museum my staff would have remembered the celebration for years! One year I held our Christmas Party at a bay-side restaurant in Coronado. I provided limousines to transport my employees to San Diego Harbor, where we boarded a water taxi for the short trip across the Bay to Coronado for our party. That particular year I had one of my clients, Craig Stone, a professional magician, perform close-up magic tricks around the table for my guests. They were wowed, though Craig attributed part of their enthusiasm to the quantities consumed at lunch. I don’t drink, but I was happy to provide drinks to my staff. The reason for the round trip water taxi and limo service was because I was determined to provide safe passage to and from the event. Damn lawyers…always selfishly concerned about liability!



An original Mardi Gras Mask. The museum has never paid for any part of its collections. All contributes are charitable IRS 501(c)(3) qualified. 



Robes worn by the King and Queen at Mardi Gras. A new Court is anointed each year. 


All the Mardi Gras Floats are elaborately decorated.



In years gone by, there was risk of fire during the Celebration Parade. Local fire trucks accompanied the floats because of this danger. Floats in those early years were lighted with real burning torches. The combination of revelers, lots of booze and burning torches caused explosive conditions and required participation by firefighting authorities. Everyone drinks at Mardi Gras…I wonder if that included the firemen. Note the Dalmation on the front seat passenger’s side.



This is an elaborate Mardi Gras Mask. I bought one like this…an original worn at a Celebration one year. A limited number of these are available for sale in the museum’s gift shop. And no, Florence won’t wear this on Halloween next October but she and I did purchase our costumes in the same gift shop. Mark your calendar now for some good laughs. We don’t know where we’ll be at Halloween, perhaps Salem, Massachusetts. That’s the New England town where the famous witch hunts occurred, and the townsfolk really have a celebration for Halloween! 


Mobile’s children are part of Mardi Gras. 



Children look forward to the celebration all year long.


WASN’T THAT FUN? Aren’t you glad you joined us for an afternoon at the Museum. You never knew that the historical celebration called Mardi Gras originated in Mobile, Alabama, did you? See, you simply must keep following my blog. You’ll learn something every day if you do. Join us again next time. I’ll continue my story then. In the meantime make the most of today. Hug your kids like there’s no tomorrow. Because even though you think you know what it will bring, my story proves to the contrary.

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