21. MCA History

The Mobile Carnival Association was established in 1872 by a group of civic-minded business men of the city. At that time, Mobile was experiencing tough economic times and the Carnival Association charged themselves with finding a way to bring people to downtown. Mobile already had an established Mardi Gras, and this group felt embellishing the holiday would provide an economic boost.

They came up with the idea of crowning a king to rule over the festivities. The first ruler ruled under the moniker of “Emperor Felix I,” which was a novel idea that caught on. In 1875 the Carnival Association convinced the Alabama state legislature to declare Fat Tuesday a legal holiday. By 1898, the group had firmly established itself as the leading force coordinating activities throughout the Carnival season. These early activities included things like band concerts, fireworks, costume contests, boat races and arranging visiting naval ships.

A queen was added to the royalty in 1893, and in 1927 the Carnival Association officially adopted the name of their king as “King Felix III,” which still stands today. Mobile Carnival Association’s annual gift to the community is to produce a king and queen as a symbol of royalty and to stage a coronation. The coronation is traditionally held on the Saturday before Mardi Gras day, in which King Felix declares that the city partake in fun and misrule until the stroke of midnight on Fat Tuesday.

The coronation is open to the public. Throughout the years, thousands have witnessed King Felix III crown his queen, our own “Empress of Charm and Beauty, and Ruler of Our Hearts.” A writer for the National Geographic magazine was so moved by the pageantry, he wrote that the coronations of Mobile rivaled the coronations of heads of state in Europe.