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Season after holidays just as fun

By By Paul Keane
Publisher
I know that we've not even gotten past Christmas, but my second favorite time of the year is rapidly approaching. In talking with several people in the community, I've found there are mixed emotions about the season I'm talking about.
About six years ago, when we first moved to the Gulf Coast, my family and I were introduced and submerged into the Mardi Gras season. Perhaps it was the fact that my wife worked on the main parade route (and the balcony of her office was a perfect vantage point for the parades), or perhaps it was living right in Fairhope – a town definitely bitten by the carnival bug – but we fell in love with the season.
Maybe it was the fact that Fairhope sealed off its downtown area one afternoon each year so that students in the K-1 Center could hold their own Mardi Gras Parade, complete with original dubloons coined free of charge by a local person.
And that's what the spirit of Mardi Gras is all about. It's a time between Christmas and Easter that helps people get their spirits up and brightens what could become a dreary winter.
I could get into all the spiritual aspects of the season – pointing out that Fat Tuesday has a direct correlation to Easter Sunday because it occurs the day before Ash Wednesday – but I know that might not go over too well. After all, my in-laws still don't understand why we enjoy those 14-17 days leading up to Fat Tuesday as much as we do.
But I can tell you something about the Alabama Mardi Gras, which for those that don't know was the original Carnival in America. New Orleans may have the biggest thing going, but Mobile and the surrounding area has the original one.
Mardi Gras was revived in Mobile right after the Civil War, or the War of Northern Aggression, whichever you prefer. Quite frankly, the people were depressed and in the dumps. Their lands had been ravaged, carpetbaggers were running rampant and things were just bad, real bad.
That's when a guy named Joe Cain decided to begin marching through the streets of downtown Mobile, throwing out goodies and candy to children and adults alike. Things just took off from there and the rest was history.
And that's what Mardi Gras is all about – sharing good times with friends and family and spreading a little cheer with everyone. When you think about it, Carnival serves as a good break in the time between New Year's Day and Easter. It gets our spirits up and on a good level heading into the spring.
About the only thing that would make it better would be a few football bowl games, but I digress.
And most Mardi Gras Krewes tend to be comprised of good people. They are business people, civic minded folks who also raise a lot of money for charities via their masked and "secret" organizations. That holds in New Orleans, Mobile, Fairhope, Foley and countless other places where Carnival is celebrated.
I understand a Mardi Gras parade works its way through parts of Atmore each year, and that things are growing steadily with those groups. I look forward to watching and becoming a part of those festivities. It's always a fun time if you keep things in perspective.
Remind me to show off my collection of Mardi Gras beads and throws to you sometime.
Paul Keane is Publisher of The Atmore Advance. His column appears on Sundays.