Joe Cain is regarded as the founder of Mobile’s modern-day Mardi Gras celebration. Before the Civil War, Mobile Mardi Gras was celebrated in conjunction with festivities to ring in the New Year, but the War put an end to these celebrations. In 1868, some say in defiance of the Union occupation of Mobile, Joe Cain and six others paraded through downtown in a decorated charcoal wagon, with Cain dressed as fictional Chickasaw chieftain Slacabamarinico. Along their route, Cain symbolically declared an end to Mobile’s suffering and signaled the return of the city’s parading activities. His actions also had the result of moving Mobile’s celebration to the traditional Fat Tuesday. Joe Cain Day, also known as The People’s Parade, occurs on the Sunday before Fat Tuesday and has been a cherished tradition in Mobile since the first official procession in 1967.  Joe Cain is buried in the Church Street Graveyard in downtown Mobile. His granite tombstone, incised with the image of a jester, reads: “Here Lies Old Joe Cain, the Heart and Soul of Mardi Gras in Mobile.”

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Encyclopedia of Alabama