Home Arts & Culture I Like A Pensacola Mardi Gras Party!

I Like A Pensacola Mardi Gras Party!

An abbreviated and exaggerated history of Pensacola Mardi Gras.

Photo by Thomas Park.

Hold on and let me get The Good Book because I need to put my hand on something and testify…it’s Pensacola Mardi Gras and King Cake Time, bay-bay. 

If you’re new here, I’m gonna hold on a minute while you get yourself a pen and a piece of paper. 


One time, a very long time ago (300 years), some people on the other side of Mobile Bay were very concerned about the sacrifices they might be called to make during the coming Lenten season (a period of time when folks give up a soda every third day and chocolate on the weekends) and said we need a party.

And some other people said, “I like a party,” and they rang a cowbell. Well, that came later. Being French Catholic and all, they declared it to be Boeuf Gras, which means fatted ox. 

Then about 100 years later, a man who may or may not have been over-served, ushered his Boeuf Gras/Mardi Gras guests into the street while banging on a cowbell. Maybe they marched all the way to Starkville? I digress. They hooped and hollered and before you know it a situation was born. 

And by a situation, I mean that others wanted cowbell parties, too. And hosted them. And the cowbell revelry soon spread all over town. Boom, Mobile Mardi Gras.

I reckon at some point, someone’s cousin’s brother’s father was invited to a Mardi Gras party in Mobile, then came home to Pensacola and said, “we need one of those.” He gathered up a group of friends and deemed them all the Knights of Priscus, meaning ancient or venerable.

The year was 1874 when the Knights formed and thus, the birth of Mardi Gras in Pensacola. 

And in fact, one of the newest Pensacola Mardi Gras krewes has taken the name Krewe of Priscus for the sole purpose of bringing together men and women from all walks of life to celebrate the history and merriment of the city of Pensacola.

While Fat Tuesday is just one day, Mardi Gras is an entire season. Fat Tuesday originated as a time when one used all the fats in the home prior to Lent when people abstained from indulgence and fasting. I am not a religious scholar, so I will leave that to experts and Google.

While deeply embedded in the religious customs of many, Mardi Gras has grown into a time of festivities and celebration for all. 

If you want to partake in or adopt some Mardi Gras traditions of your own, start with buying a king cake. Katie Brand, a writer with Pensacola Mom Collective, wrote a great article on where to get the best king cakes in town. The comment section got heated and some gals from Lafayette, Louisiana nearly died on a hill declaring Meche’s to be their favorite. Meche’s is available at Broussard’s at 690 East Heinberg Street.

The next step is to attend one of the area’s upcoming Mardi Gras parades. After that, if your blood is running green, gold, and purple check out all the krewes here in Pensacola and laissez les bon temps roller! 

A lot of what we do around here may not make sense, but it sure does make merry!

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Dana is an Arkansas native and a seasonal resident of the Gulf Coast since childhood. She was a Pensacola resident for 13 years, before moving to Gulf Breeze. Dana attributes her Mayberry-esque childhood in Warren, Arkansas, as enormously influential in honing her definitely Southern style of storytelling. She earned a degree in Journalism, Advertising/Public Relations from the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig Sooie!). In addition to writing, she loves photography, art, adventures in the great outdoors, and spending time with her three children.