Gearing up for the Gras: Enthusiasm grows for Mardi Gras-style parade ahead of USS Mobile commissioning

Alabama News

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The Navy’s newest warship is set to be commissioned on Saturday, and we’re days away from the kick-off of those festivities.

On Friday night, the only Mardi Gras-style parade we’ve seen since February of last year will roll through the streets of downtown Mobile.

“We’re looking for big crowds,” said Jennifer Parker, who will be riding in the parade.

Getting the good times rolling again, several people riding in Friday night’s parade are picking out some last-minute throws.

I am purchasing everything from candy and MoonPies and stuffed animals, and everything that makes Mardi Gras fun,” Parker said.

With no Mardi Gras parades this year because of COVID-19, many are trying to make up for the relatively quiet Mardi Gras season.

“We missed out on a lot. Thankfully we had Yardi Gras, now we have Tardy Gras, so at least we’re getting a piece of the action so to speak,” said Stephen Toomey, owner of Toomey’s.

Toomey said this year wasn’t the same with the lack of Mardi Gras parades rolling through downtown.

“We’re blessed to have this parade in Mobile on Friday night, then Pensacola is doing something the following weekend. Panama City has got some things going Saturday night of this week. So there’s been a buildup of parades that have really helped our business tremendously,” Toomey said.

Friday’s parade will roll past dignitaries in town for the USS Mobile’s commissioning. It’s meant to show off what makes the city special.

“It means more to me because I have a daughter who is in the Navy, stationed overseas. Hi Regan! I love you, and so it means a lot to me. It brings tears to my eyes to know that the Naval officers are going to be in town. That brings me one step closer to her when I can’t be with her,” Parker said.

The parade kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Friday on a modified Parade Route A, it will start at the Civic Center, but will end on Canal Street.

Courtesy: City of Mobile

It is a full parade, there will be 29 floats from 21 organizations, 7 bands, as well as some Joe Cain marchers.

The Mobile Carnival Association, which is putting the parade together, says there’s great enthusiasm from everyone involved.

“It’s kind of exciting, kind of getting us back in the spirit of it,” said Jimmy, who is riding Friday night.

“We’re over the moon excited, we’re planning on being out all day, going to all the restaurants, just being in Mobile and celebrating what we love,” Parker said.

The city will be enforcing the typical Mardi Gras parade rules, meaning no parking along the parade route two hours before the parade, and no moving around the barricades.

The Mobile Police Department is to reminding everyone parking is not allowed in the following locations:

  • Conti Street between Royal and Broad streets
  • Church Street between Royal Street & South Washington Avenue
  • Anywhere along the parade route 
  • On any sidewalk
  • Water Street median between I-10 and St. Francis Street
  • In front of private driveways
  • Anywhere a No Parking sign is posted

The temporary impound lot for vehicles towed during the parade is at Monroe and Water streets. For a list of downtown parking lots and garages, click here.

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