It was a big weekend for Mardi Gras revelry as the first big parades of the season finally rolled in Downtown Mobile. Mobile police estimate that more than a quarter million people came out to the parades this past weekend.
It's no surprise really. The weather was warm, the rain mostly stayed away; and with a later start to Mardi Gras 2019, it really didn't sneak up on anyone.
The largest crowds were on Friday night, when police estimated 109,827 for the Conde Cavaliers -- traditionally the first downtown parade of the season. Saturday's Bayport Parading Society parade rolled during the afternoon, and according to Mobile Mask, had three times the crowd of the previous year.
And then, on Saturday night, three parades broke the 100,000 attendance barrier (not barricade, you'll get fined for crossing one of them!) for maybe the first time ever.
These are great attendance numbers, and they set us up nicely to make the record books for overall Mardi Gras parade attendance. It's almost certain to be improved from a year ago, where some lousy weather and a fairly early Mardi Gras Day (it was Feb. 13th) pushed the crowds downward. While more than 140,000 attended parades on Fat Tuesday a year ago, only two parades the entire season eclipsed 100,000 revelers -- and no, the Joe Cain Procession (bad weather) and Mystics of Time (rescheduled) were not among them.
If the weather holds, at least for the biggest days of the Mardi Gras season, the City of Mobile could have its best-attended Mardi Gras celebrations since Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans was very much in recovery mode in early 2006, and Mardi Gras season was shortened in the Big Easy, leading to a much bigger than normal Fat Tuesday in the Port City. We probably won't get another 250,000 revelers on Fat Tuesday, but forecasts indicate we will have good weather for Mardi Gras Day -- at least if you choose to believe Accuweather's overly ambitious long-term forecasts.
The more immediate forecast is for rain later this week, with the worst of the weather on Wednesday, when there are no parades scheduled. We'll remain a bit unsettled through the weekend, but hopefully not enough to diminish our revelry.
Laissez le bons temps rouler!