MOBILE, Ala. (WALA)- Many Mobilians say Joe Cain Day captures the true spirit of Mobile Mardi Gras. The Sunday before Fat Tuesday was recognized back in 1967 by a local historian as “Joe Cain Day,” in order to celebrate a man who many locals hail as the man who revived the City of Mobile through Mardi Gras revelry after the Civil War.
“Ever since 1865, when Joe Cain started the parades, that’s what Mobile spirit’s been all about is the people of mobile who come together and celebrate,” said Zach Bolden, who attened the Joe Cain festivities Sunday, March 2.
“He saved, in my opinion, the City of Mobile. Just a simple cotton broker, who wanted to have a good time,” said Justin Quinley, who also enjoyed Sunday’s Joe Cain excitement.
For years, Joe Cain Day has been hailed as the day for the “People’s Parade,” because typically, whoever wants to ride in the parade, is allowed to do so.
“It’s just a lot less pomp and circumstance with it, and everybody can be in it, and it’s just a lot more fun,” said Gale Braswell, who enjoys Joe Cain Day every year.
Another deep tradition surrounding Joe Cain Day is that of the “Merry Widows.” Described as a mystic society of women who weep over their dead husband, Joe Cain, these ladies dress in all black with veils and mourn their “husband” every year at his gravesite in downtown Mobile.
This year, the Merry Widows celebrated 40 years as an organization, or, “40 years of tears,” as their float displayed.
This group of ladies is noted for their dramatic weeping at the cemetery and comical revelry of the man who, many locals say, saved Mobile with Mardi Gras.
“We are a historical, hysterical, mystic society,” said Sue Ellen Cain, one of the members of the Merry Widows, “One in a million!”