Mobile, Alabama claims to be the first city in the United States to celebrate Mardi Gras and the state bought billboards all around New Orleans touting that message.

But I did a little checking to see if Alabama can really lay claim to the first Mardi Gras celebration. I asked Lt. Governor Billy Nungesser about this debate and he told me

The first Mardi Gras celebration actually was in South Plaquemines Parish out near Mardi Gras Pass and if you look way back into the history, that's our claim to fame. I was President of Plaquemines Parish and we always said the first celebration was right there on the banks of the Mississippi River. So they can keep claiming it and putting up all the billboards they want, but Louisiana owns Mardi Gras. also did a great report on this first celebration which apparently happened in 1699, four years before the first celebration in Mobile. The celebration in Louisiana involved explorers Iberville, his younger brother Bienville, and some other explorers.