Dauphin Island’s Mardi Gras parade is the first in the nation each year, and with a warm sun shining down upon us this morning we couldn’t resist staying on the island an extra day for a little bons temps as only a Mardi Gras celebration can deliver.
On the two Saturdays when Mardi Gras parades are held here (the first was last week), the quiet island’s population of 1,300 explodes to more than ten times that number. Cars are backed up for miles over the causeway and bridge as they stream onto the island from the western shore of Mobile Bay. Friday afternoon residents start staking out tail-gating spaces with yellow police tape up and down Bienville Avenue, the island’s main street, which runs west and east. The avenue is named after Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, who founded Mobile as the first capital of French Louisianna in 1702. Mardi Gras celebrations began there the next year, and remain a strong tradition in these parts.
After the parade, we were invited to—of all things—an oyster bake hosted by some of the research staff from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab who we met yesterday (see last post for more info on the lab). It was a fun party, with oysters being shucked, eaten on the half-shell, baked, and steamed. Bellies full, we biked home just after dark to get ready for tomorrow morning’s early crossing of Mobile Bay on our return to Pensacola.
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