Mobile Porch Parade: Creatively celebrating Mardi Gras —12 photos

Wild Things - Mobile Porch Parade - Mardi Gras
Where the Wild Things Are House gets even more wild at night! Photo by Jason Valentine Float pieces by Craig Stephens and his crew at Carnival Artists

With many Mardi Gras balls and parades canceled due to due to COVID-19 concerns, folks in Mobile are getting creative this year to celebrate. 400+ homes and businesses are decking out their storefronts and porches to participate in the Mobile Porch Parade. We talked to Stacy Wellborn, a co-organizer of the parade, to see how this all came about and how people can get involved.

What is the Mobile Porch Parade?

Mardi Gras - Mobile Porch Parade Home
Photo via Lynn Henderson Oldshue

What began roughly three weeks ago from conversations in a Facebook group is now a full fledged celebration with a fun name and a lot of support. Founded by Suzanne Sarver, the Mobile Porch Parade has registered 400+ participants who have decorated their homes and storefronts for Mardi Gras.

“In less than three weeks it went from nothing to having over 400 homes and businesses registered to participate in the Mobile Porch Parade. It’s blown up beyond our expectations.”

Stacy Wellborn, co-organizer of the Mobile Porch Parade

They have an official map of every registered home so locals and visitors can tour the homes via sidewalk, bike or car.

From streamers and shiny stars to MoonPies and yard signs, some participants have gone all out with the decor—many working with local artists or businesses to create unique pieces for their porch.

Mobile Porch Parade
Photo via the Oakleigh Garden District

This is multi-million dollar business for our area. This has given some life to some of those local artists and businesses who are now going from no business to being swamped with people looking for decorations and hiring artists to create float pieces and different types of designs.

The creativity has just been amazing. And the impact on our economy… we just don’t even know how to measure that.

“You know this is what it’s all about—Community spirit and community support”

Mobile Porch Parade - Decorative Fence
Photo from the Oakleigh Garden District

“Many people don’t know that Mobile is actually the homebase for Mardi Gras in the U.S. The original Mardi Gras celebrations began there in 1703, and the traditions have continued for centuries.”

“My husband and I are both involved and live in the historic district, and we are used to activity this time of year. I was really sad taking down Christmas decorations thinking there was nothing to look forward to like we usually do with Mardi Gras.”

“So when this came up and Suzanne started it, I jumped right in. My spirit was reenergized.”

Mobile Porch Parade
Photo via the Mobile Porch Parade on Facebook with their permission

Other locals, business owners and artists have volunteered to help where they can. From creating hard copies of maps to yard signs, the partnership of local creatives and entrepreneurs has pulled everything together.

Bringing Happiness to Mobile and Beyond

The excitement reaches beyond Mobile. Nearby city’s have their own efforts underway. “Float Houses’ are popping up in NOLA, and in Baldwin County, the “Yardi Gras” trend is spreading.

They’ve even had folks from outside of the state registering addresses to participate. 

“We’ve had people from the Facebook page reaching out—several from Mississippi saying they will drive over. The response outside of Mobile has been greater than we expected.”

Their hope? That the Porch Parade brings some much-needed happiness to their community and beyond.

“Mardi Gras is such a happy time for us and our community and for so many other communities around the world. I think we needed this happiness. It’s been such a weird world this last year and last few months. Mardi Gras is a non-partisan, everyone-can-participate, happy thing, and I think it’s just what we needed.”

Participate in the Mobile Porch Parade

Visit the Mobile Porch Parade’s site to view their official map. You can use the map to create your own parade route, or check in to their site soon to see parade route maps through several historic neighborhoods.

Bonus: They’ve even created a curated playlist of themed tunes for your tour. Find it here.

This grassroots movement is led completely by volunteers who aren’t working for profit, but working to support local businesses, artists and non profits. Organizers are asking people who are enjoying the map to consider donating The Food Pantry at Central 

Follow them on social @mobileporchparade for more photos and updates, and use the hashtag #mobileporchparade to share your photos

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Hannah Chambley Williams
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