In 1704 a Frenchman named Nicholas Langlois founded the Societe de la Saint Louis, and so Mardi Gras was established in America, in the South, the deep South. This happened in a place called 27 Mile Bluff, I think 27 Mile Bluff came to be know as Mobile.
The Mardi Gras we know today is, what it is, thanks to Joe Cain. In 1866 Joe Cain revived Mardi Gras after the war had dampened everyone spirits. He did a great job, it’s been going strong and getting better ever since.
My earliest memories of Mardi Gras are with my family, downtown, parking in the double decker garage, walking a few blocks to the parade then piling back into the car and going home and eating candy. Back then, this was the mid-sixties, peanut butter kisses were big, so was serpentine. Beads and moon pies I don’t remember as much.
I also remember being in the Joe Cain Parade back in the 70’s. I was in high school and for a few years there was a party in the Church St. Cemetery. This is where Joe Cain was buried. I went with my Mon and Dad and my little brother. We took food and drink and set up a picnic on one of the huge, raised, grave markers and we Raised Cain. This didn’t last long, I’m sure it was rough on such an old cemetery. But I think that was the movement to start Joe Cain Day.
So they call it the “peoples parade” and it was held on the Sunday before Mardi Gras Day. Anyone could be in the Joe Cain Parade. You could walk, ride a homemade float, ride a bike , skate, dance, play music, anything. All ya had to do was get in line. I remember both the line and the parade never ended. So many people would show up and just get into line and go.
The one year I rode in the Joe Cain Parade was with a group from high school. We had a pickup truck pulling a small trailer. There were way to many of us on the rig and we were throwing meat scraps. One of the guys we were with, I won’t name names but his folks owned Namans Meat Market. So that’s what we were throwing to the screaming crowd. Soon the pieces of meat were being thrown back at us and soon after that a fight broke out, so we just pulled off the parade route and got the hell outta there.