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“Raising Cain” in The Ancestral Home of Mardi Gras-Mobile, Alabama

Sometimes your bucket list picks you. Last Sunday I had ten minutes to get out of bed, decide, dress, hit the road and play bucket list. Mardi Gras in Mobile, Alabama is “the U.S.A’s ancestral home of Mardi-Gras,” and celebrates “Joe Cain Day.” Touted as the more family friendly version of Mardi Gras, the Joe Cain Day “procession, said never to be called a parade, is one of the three-week events during this season.

 Mardi Gras Museum-Mobile, Alabama. Cause pre-lent has been funky since 1699

Mardi Gras Museum-Mobile, Alabama. Cause pre-lent has been funky since 1699

Mardi Gras Museum- On Lundi Gras in 1699, French Catholic Settlers named the area ‘point du Mardi Gras” and a nearby tributary ‘Bayou Mardi Gras.”  Mobile, the First Capital of French Louisiana held festivities of some sort but The Civil War put a halt on the shindigs.

After the Civil War, on a Fat Tuesday in 1868, a character by the name of Joe Cain, dressed up like a Choctaw Chief, wearing a plaid skirt and headdress. He was joined by six fellow Confederates; with a decorated coal wagon, playing drums and horns. Apparently, the Choctow Nation had never lost a battle. I guess Joe and his compatriots’ had an axe to grind.

Slab IV leading out

I might mention that Joe had a name for his character. He called himself “Slacabamorinico.” Slac IV has been leading for  the past 30 years. Joe Cain 1832-1904, had been buried in Bayou La Batre, Alabama but was reinterred to Mobile to be next to his family in 1966. Apparently Slac II hand carried his skull to Mobile, walking in front of a jazz procession, and thus began passing of the torch to each honorary successor.

Tradition runs deep here!

Slab IV

I started out at The Church Cemetery where the procession ends cause I dig cemeteries, and there lies Joe Cain. On the day that I visited, the cemetery was closed for construction but I was able to get a look.

Gates locked on this day? Buzzkill!

Gates locked on this day? Buzzkill!

Raising Cain comes from the Old Testament and not Alabama.

Do you throw beads or flash?

Do you throw beads or flash?

I saw a large friendly police presence. The city discourages nudity, blatant public drunkenness and other lewd behavior, which will lead to a prompt arrest if witnessed by law enforcement.  It is not New Orleans.

What a field day for the heat.

What a field day for the heat.

In 1966 when Joe’s grave was moved from Bayou La Batre, Alabama,  a jazz funeral took place. This jazz group became known as The Minstrels Band,  and today are called “The Lost Cause Minstrels of Mobile.”

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There is a history of Societies, some secret. A few of these groups are represented in the procession.

The Society of Bums-since 1976

The Society of Bums-since 1976

By chance, I met some really nice people. This man has been leading out the procession with The Society of Bums since 1976.  One of the bum spouses (don’t take that wrong, she was so nice) found out that I was a Mardi Gras Virgin and invited me to dinner.

There was a whole family of bums-who knew?

There was a whole family of bums-who knew?

The Merry Widows of Joe Cain Float.

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Cain’s Merry Widows since 1974

The widows throw garters, roses and black beads

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In 2003,  “The Mistresses of Joe Cain” group was founded. Before the procession begins, The Mistresses make a toast; “Here is to Joe on this day we do mourn.  He loved us dearly though we face lots of scorn.  From dusk til dawn we mourn his death, cause we all know, HE LOVED US BEST!!!”  Unlike the widows, the mistresses walk behind the coal wagon to be near to Joe.

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Ole Joe was busy

Ole Joe was busy

This used to be a “people’s parade/procession, but entries are now capped. Neighborhoods, families and large groups of friends build floats and not mystic societies. There were about 34 entries.

People's Procession/parade

People’s Procession/parade

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I give this event ***** megastars.  It’s fun, historical, traditional and unique, and hey you can bring the kids.

Megatips- when in Mobile eat at Felix’s Fish Camp-Yum!

Yum!

Yum!

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Check out my Instagram for more photos of this event at https://instagram.com/kickingthebucketlistwithmeg/

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