On the Eastern Shore and in Mobile proper, first and foremost on the minds of Alabamians at this time of year is Mardi Gras. Likewise it is with us. This is our first time experiencing all the brouhaha and we are relishing every minute of it. There are at least 55 Carnival events that we are aware of and at least 37 of them are parades taking place locally, I know this because I counted them off a list published in the Press-Register. Not wanting to overwhelm Don by hauling him around to see all of them, which is impossible to do since some run simultaneously in different cities, I did my research and selected a few of the more intriguing ones, at least in my book.
The first on my hit parade were the Conde Cavaliers. Founded in 1977, this parade and ball society is always the first parade to open Mardi Gras. The organization is named after the French general, Prince de Conde. This is a large group with several floats and the members are known to be heavy throwers.
What is a throw you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. Throws are items tossed by krewe (or society) members on board floats to parade attendees below. Throws can be a variety of different trinkets. Beads are the inevitable choice but cups, stuffed animals, doubloons, a variety of light-up objects and balls are popular throws too, but the favorite much coveted throw of all are the Moon Pies.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Unfortunately we were unable to make the Conde Cavaliers parade due to unforeseeable circumstances. However i did have more than a few other society parades on my list as well. Next on schedule was the Order of the Inca. This society was formed in 1956, hosting it’s first ball in 1957 but did not parade until 1975. Noted for their emblem floats of ancient Incan temples.
Definition of an emblem float: The first few floats in each parade are called permanent floats. They are sheltered inside a “float barn” and used year after year. The first permanent float is often the “emblem” float. It will have the society’s name, founding date, and giant representations of their mascot(s). A society may have one, two, three or more permanent floats.
A “permanent” Incan temple float
Another “permanent” Incan temple float. The photos depict the front & rear of float.
The remaining floats in a parade will reflect the krewe’s chosen theme for that year. These floats will change yearly. A very costly venture I imagine.
The Order of the Inca chose Myths & Legends for their theme this year. Some of the floats representing Myths were dragons, the Himalayan Yeti, and zombies. On the Legends side were the likes of Paul Revere, Robin Hood, Paul Bunyan and the Templar Knights.
Spartan Legend float
Viking Legend float
We arrived at our destination, the historic Bienville Square 2 hours before parade time. This was to ensure we found a parking spot for the Ford 450, after all, she’d not a little thing. It was also so we could explore the square to procure what we felt would be an excellent observation point. We selected a corner spot under some of Mobile’s oldest oak trees and well within sight of the famous Moon Pie on top the RSA-Bank Trust Building.
The Gator & Marlin floats are called Associate floats meaning they were rented from other societies.
My research prior to the parade informed me that the Moon Pie not only drops for the New Year’s Eve countdown but also at the beginning of each Mobile Mardi Gras parade. Since we had missed the New Years drop I wanted to be certain we saw it drop for Mardi Gras.
Needless to say we had a fun time. The crowds were orderly, respectful and polite. The floats and costumes spectacular and catching throws was a blast. Along with the 4 Moon Pies we scored, I even caught a large teddy bear throw. This I’ll hand over to one of my granddaughter’s. The pies never made it home. We greedily devoured them on the way.
Knights of Ecor Rouge Emblem float above. The 4 below are permanent KOER floats.
Our second parade appearance was in the charming small town of Fairhope which is located on Mobile Bay’s Eastern Shore and much closer to where we are camped. This parade was hosted by the Knights of Ecor Rouge (KOER). KOER is an Eastern Shore based society that was founded in 1983. Ecor Rouge is French for Red Cliff and is in reference to a triangular shaped bluff between the Eastern Shore towns of Daphne and Montrose. Their motto is “Chevaliers a se Rappeler” which translates to “Knights to Remember.” This year’s theme was A Jedi Knight (The Force Unleashed).
A few of the Star Wars themed floats
The atmosphere seemed to be even more family friendly than Mobile’s. Chairs and blankets lined the street route. We spotted many fur children in attendance with their humans while the “human” children played catch and tag in the street right up until parade time. Picnic baskets and coolers were in abundance as well.
We noticed right away that the krewe members favored tossing their throws to the younger crowd rather than the older. We too made it a point to turn over our catches to all the kiddies around us. Well that is except for the dozen Moon Pies we caught. One krewe member tossed Don an almost full bag of assorted balls, I handed them out to all the wee ones near us. It was neat to see all the smiles of delight that little gesture brought.
The much coveted banana Moon Pie
Don isn’t normally a parade going person. So I was concerned that he’d burn out early on me. Well I worried for naught, he’s 100% addicted and looking forward to seeing the four remaining I have listed on my hit parade.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid & Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!