Let the Good Times Roll All Year Long?

laissez le bon temps rouler!!!

That’s right let the good times roll! Today is Mardi Gras. If you’re not from Mobile or New Orleans or unfamiliar with the celebration, Mardi Gras is the French pronunciation for Fat Tuesday. The day before Ash Wednesday which marks the first day of the Lenten season for the Christian Church.

It’s a day full of fun, partying, parades, beads, moon pies, and anything else that can be thrown from a parade float moving down the streets of downtown Mobile. The question is do you think Mardi Gras should be a year-round celebration? The city of Mobile and their tourism arm thinks that it should.

Visit Mobile and the administration of the city are currently working on plans to roll out a year-round Mardi Gras celebration. They say they think it will help bring more tourists to the city and provide a more common theme and unique atmosphere to tourism and convention recruitment efforts on the part of the city.

However, is Mobile really cut out for a year-round Mardi Gras? The answer is, In my opinion, depends on what you mean by year-round Mardi Gras.

If by a year-round Mardi Gras you mean we have a Mardi Gras parade that travels the streets of downtown Mobile every Saturday afternoon, absolutely not Mobile is not ready for a year-round Mardi Gras. If by a year-round Mardi Gras you mean the city and the community put on different events throughout the year and brand those events with Mardi Gras themed names and atmospheres, then yeah it’s probably a good idea to brand the city of Mobile’s tourism marketing efforts around Mardi Gras.

First of all, if you start having year-round Mardi Gras parades through the streets of downtown Mobile, it takes away from what us locals call ‘Real’ Mardi Gras. That is the 3-week time period preceding Fat Tuesday. Having year round Mardi Gras parades through the streets will cause locals and regional residents to get tired of the Mardi Gras experience and dampen their enthusiasm for the Mardi Gras experience when ‘Real’ Mardi Gras rolls around. That would very possibly hurt the real Mardi Gras celebrations, including possibly seeing a decreased membership in Mardi Gras organizations, a decrease attendance in Mardi Gras balls, and smaller numbers of people in the crowds at Mardi Gras parades.

However, if the city wants to create new or rebrand existing events throughout the year around the Mardi Gras theme, it could actually enhance ‘Real’ Mardi Gras. It could enhance the 3-week celebration before Ash Wednesday by giving visitors that come to Mobile during other times of the year other than Mardi Gras a small taste of how we do Mardi Gras in Mobile, that is distinctly different than the way they do it in New Orleans, that would encourage them and excite them about coming back to Mobile during our Mardi Gras celebration. Think about it, you could put on a zydeco, jazz, and blues music festival in the springtime and call it the Joe Cain PeopleFest. You could do things like having a contest to see who can do the best Chief Slac impression, and other contest and events during the festival along the same Joe Cain Theme. You can even do a Moon Pie Arts and Crafts Festival in the fall That could include a bead throwing contest and moon pie eating contest. You could even have a king cake bake off during the arts and crafts festival.

Doing things like this, and other events like maybe a Reveler fashion show featuring the fashions of Mardi Gras, and branding the city of Mobile’s tourism efforts around the Mardi Gras culture of Mobile could continue a long standing effort in the city, that extends back to the Mardi Gras parade for the Lending Tree Bowl, and the moon pie drop on New year’s Eve, which has brought awareness throughout the region and the nation to the American birthplace of Mardi Gras. And that’s a good thing for Mobile.

So let’s continue down the path of branding Mobile with the culture of Mardi Gras, but not doing it in a way that will detract from and ultimately harm ‘Real’ Mardi Gras. laissez le bon temps rouler!!!

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