Mardi Gras is celebrated in Mobile, New Orleans and other Gulf Coast cities. This festive event was started in Mobile and according to some accounts, dates back to 1703. The celebration was originally called Boef Gras (Fat Beef).
The well-known Mardi Gras in Mobile was begun by Michael Krafft. On New Years's Eve, 1830, Krafft and his friends were reluctant to end a dinner party at the customary time. They raided a nearby hardware store, took up rakes, hoes and cowbells and proceeded to wake the town. They soon formed the Cowbellion de Rakin Society, the first of Mobile's many modern mystic organizations. The Cowbellions presented their first parade, complete with floats and theme, in 1840.
The Civil War brought revelry in Mobile to an abrupt halt. Joseph Stillwell Cain, on Fat Tuesday of 1866, donned full Chickasaw Indian regalia, dubbed himself Chief Slacabamorinico. Cain and six friends set out to raise the morale of citizens in the defeated city. Dubbing themselves the "Tea Drinkers", and fired up by drink much stronger than tea, they took to the streets in a decorated coal wagon pulled by a mule. Cain was a founder in the Order of Myths, the organization which today holds the final Carnival Season parade Mardi Gras night. He also helped organize many more parading societies. Cain's role in reviving Mardi Gras is observed each year on the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day, "Joe Cain Day." On "Joe Cain Day" thousands of Mobilians in costume and on individually designed floats parade through the streets of downtown Mobile.
The date of Mardi Gras is determined by the date of Easter. Mardi Gras Day, or "Fat Tuesday," is the Tuesday before the Ash Wednesday which begins the 40 days Lenten season. Nighttime parades and other public festivities begin about 10 days before Mardi Gras Day. Carnival Season balls, receptions and other private functions begin in the fall and continue through Mardi Gras Day.