About The Mobile Carnival Association
The Mobile Carnival Association is a group of civic minded people committed to promoting Mobile as the birthplace of Mardi Gras in America. It serves as a clearinghouse for issues related to carnival in the Port City. The association had it beginnings in 1872 at a time when Mobile was experiencing some tough economic times. A group of businessmen sought to assist local political leadership in finding a way to bring people to downtown Mobile to generate additional revenue. At this time, Mobile already had an established Mardi Gras and this group felt embellishing the holiday could provide an economic boost. So, they came up with the idea to crown a King to rule over the festivities. The first monarch ruled under the moniker, Emperor Felix I.
By 1875 the Carnival Association successfully lobbied Alabama State Legislature to declare Fat Tuesday a legal holiday. The Carnival Association continued its work and by 1898 had established itself as the leading force behind coordinating activities throughout the carnival season. These activities included things like band concerts, fireworks, costume contests, boat races and the inclusion of visiting naval ships. A Queen was added to the royalty in 1893, and in 1899 MCA officially adopted the name of their King as King Felix, III, which still stands today.
The Carnival Association seeks to give back to the community and their annual gift is to produce a King and Queen as a symbol of royalty and to stage a Coronation. The Coronation has had many homes – the Banana Wharfs at the foot of Government Street, Battle House Hotel, Fort Whiting, the Mobile Civic Center and its current home – The Arthur R. Outlaw Mobile Convention Center. Coincidentally, with the Convention Center sitting on the exact location as the old banana docks, it is only fitting that the Coronation returned to its roots when the Convention Center opened in 1993. The Coronation is traditionally held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras Day in which King Felix declares the city partake of fun misrule until the stroke of Midnight on Fat Tuesday. The Coronation is open to the public and throughout the years thousands have witnessed King Felix III crown his Queen – Empress of Charm and Beauty, Ruler of our Hearts.
The Carnival Association still assumes the role of ambassador for Mardi Gras in Mobile, and promotes carnival year-round including running the Mobile Carnival Museum, a non-profit entity. The museum opened in 2005 and allows visitors to experience Mobile Mardi Gras in various ways. It offers 14 galleries, a pictorial hallway, den, and theater and is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and every other Thursday. Guided tours are offered at 9:30 am, 11:00 am and 1:30 pm. Guests can also explore at their leisure or take an audio tour. The museum is also a premier rental venue in Mobile hosting all types of celebrations from convention groups and corporate events, to wedding functions and social affairs, parade receptions and even children’s birthday parties.
Mobile Carnival Museum