Page 37 - Discover South Mississippi - Winter, 2024
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 This year, Mardi Gras Day, February 13, 2024, marks the 325th anniversary of d'Iberville landing in Biloxi. His visit marked not only the beginning of French settlement on the Mississippi Gulf Coast but the beginning of carnival celebrations in the Americas when on March 3, 1699, d’Iberville commemorated Mardi Gras just south of the Mississippi River in present-day Louisiana.
The French quickly settled the area, and in 1703, the first recorded North American Mardi Gras parade was held in present-day Mobile, Alabama. From there, the tradition continued to grow in both Mobile and New Orleans with the development of elaborate balls and the forming of secretive carnival clubs often known as mystical societies or krewes. Nineteenth-century newspaper articles discuss the Mardi Gras
parties and parades held in Coastal Mississippi, but it was not until 1908, 116 years ago, that Mississippi formed its first Mardi Gras organization when the City of Biloxi mounted its first city-sponsored parade observing the official beginning of Mardi Gras in Mississippi.
The first parade was led by the reigning royalty King Bienville (later changed to King d’Iberville), and Queen Ixolib (Biloxi spelled backward) and included a Grand Marshal, 17 floats, 50 flambeau carriers, and a
12-piece band. In 1916, this annual parade was formalized into the Biloxi Carnival and Literary Association. With growing popularity, the membership spread beyond the city
of Biloxi, so the group was renamed the Gulf Coast Carnival Association which it remains to this day and reigns as the oldest carnival organization in Mississippi.
Since 1908, the celebration has exploded to include over 40
different krewes and organizations that hold a variety of balls and over 20 different parades across Coastal Mississippi. Carnival traditions are
a unique part of Coastal Mississippi culture making it a special time for residents and visitors to socialize and enjoy food, friends and revelry.
When planning your visit to Coastal Mississippi during this time of year, do not forget to check the calendar. Mardi Gras Day fluctuates from year to year, but carnival season always begins on the 12th Night, January
5, and ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. This year
that day falls on Tuesday, February 13, so you won’t want to miss it. While you're here don’t miss a visit
to the Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum on Howard Avenue in Biloxi. The museum is open year-round and features costumes, traditions, and the krewes of Coastal Mississippi!
    January 5
January 27
February 4
February 10
February 11
Biloxi’s 12th Night Celebration
Ocean Springs Elk’s Carnival Parade
Krewe of Nereids Parade
Krewe of Neptune Night Parade
St. Paul’s Carnival Association “The Pass” Parade
*All events are subject to change but were accurate at the time of printing.
     February 12
Free Public Viewing of the Gulf Coast Carnival Association Ball
Free tickets available at Biloxi Visitors Center and Coastal Mississippi Mardi Gras Museum Winter 2024   DISCOVER COASTAL MISSISSIPPI 37
Gulf Coast Carnival Association Parade

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