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New Orleans wouldn't exist for another 19 years, however, and it's widely believed the first New World iteration of Carnival occurred in a different territory under French control — in Mobile, Ala., in 1703."Sometimes I jokingly say '[Mobile] had it first, but [New Orleans] told them where to put it,'" Arthur Hardy, author, told TIME."The men who started the first Mardi Gras organization in New Orleans were from Mobile, and they actually borrowed [traditions from] Mobile's Mardi Gras-style parade."The main difference, Hardy said, was that Mobile's parades initially weren't for Mardi Gras at all: they ran on New Year's Eve.But the most renowned tradition of Mardi Gras — the parades — didn't begin until 1857.That year, the aforementioned men from Mobile created the Comus Organization — the first "krewe," a sort of non-profit secret society that orchestrates parades and galas for Mardi Gras.The members of Comus established the tradition of presenting themed float parades for the public; a tradition, Hardy said, that makes New Orleans' version of Mardi Gras so vast and beloved."[The parade] is like a six-mile family picnic," he explained."Anybody can go, and it's a remarkably safe and wholesome event.It then left that union in 1861 when Alabama joined the Confederate States of America, which collapsed in 1865.
But Mardi Gras, sometimes referred to as Carnival (after the pre-Lenten festive season of the same name), has roots that can be traced back to Europe's Middle Ages, far before the Big Easy was founded in 1718.Bienville was made governor of French Louisiana in 1701.Mobile's Roman Catholic parish was established on 20 July 1703, by Jean-Baptiste de la Croix de Chevrières de Saint-Vallier, Bishop of Quebec.During its first 100 years, Mobile was a colony for France, then Britain, and lastly Spain.Mobile first became a part of the United States of America in 1810, with the annexation of West Florida under President James Madison.