Mardi Gras

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Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday") is the last day of the Carnival festival season preceding Lent. The annual Pensacola celebration, currently organized by Pensacola Mardi Gras, Inc., is one of the oldest in the United States, dating back to 1874. Festivities typically take place on the eponymous Tuesday itself and the preceding week.


A. C. Blount as King Priscus

The first organized celebration of Carnival in Pensacola was in 1874, when a group of men including B. F. Yniestra, D. G. and F. C. Brent, D. K. Huckley and Dr. J. C. Whiting established the Knights of Priscus Association. The name Priscus came from Tarquinius Priscus, the fifth king of Rome, who

was the first Roman king to wear a purple robe, and golden crown on his head. He established the circus or place where games could be held, also increased the number of Roman knights, and built a stone wall around the city. His majesty of our carnival, like his prototype of old Rome, knows that "A little folly now and then / Is relished by the best of men."[1]

The event became unorganized, having "fallen entirely into the hands of individual merry-makers and frolickers who disported themselves as their own wild merriment dictated,"[1] but was reorganized by the Clerks Union in 1900. They formed the Pensacola Carnival Association with a 12-person committee led by chairman J. I. Johnson. Priscus remained the title of the festival's ceremonial king, and Alexander Clement Blount II was named the first King Priscus of the new group.