Mardi Gras 1886

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Mardi Gras 1886 was the first organized celebration of Mardi Gras in Birmingham. It was marked by a parade and masked ball held on Monday March 8, 1886, both presented by the German Society. Crowds of revelers were reported to have come into the city by train for the spectacle and to have filled every available space along the parade route.


The parade started on the south end of the 22nd Street Viaduct at 2:00 in the afternoon and processed from the bridge to 1st Avenue North, where it turned to the west and continued to 16th Street, a distance of about one mile. An advertisment for the upcoming parade indicated that the route would continue up 16th Street to 2nd Avenue North, where it would return to 22nd Street, then up to 4th Avenue North for a return to 16th Street, then back to 2nd Avenue to 20th Street and south to 6th Avenue South on Southside, where it would turn back to 22nd Street to complete the circuit. The The procession was described in detail by the Birmingham Age:


The German Society's Sublett Hall on 2nd Avenue North hosted the grand masquerade ball on the same evening. The King reclined under a canopy on the stage. A large cake baked with a bean inside it was carved and distributed to the young ladies of the court. Ada Solomon found the bean and was crowned Queen and escorted to the throne where she received a ring from the monarch. Music and dancing continued well into the night.