All my life, I’ve lived in Mobile. I was born and raised here and I’ll most likely be buried here. Though, to be honest, I’ve lived here all my life and hated it. There was never anything to do, everybody knew each other; it was just boring. I looked forward to going off to school just to get away from everybody and every boring thing about Mobile, Alabama. I wanted to travel the world and explore all the distant places I would always see on TV that seemed way better than boring old Mobile.
Ironically though, I’m staying right here and going to college in my favorite part of town, which I’m super excited for. In all my 18 years of living, the last four of them were spent in high school at one of the oldest high schools in the county, Murphy High School. The traditions of my high school and the stories told from multiple teachers who were well versed in the history of Mobile captured my attention and drove my interest in finding out what all I could find to do in our rapidly growing town. Of course, I was also influenced by my peers, as a lot of my friends were heavily involved in clubs that participated in events all around Mobile. Like for example, along with a handful of friends and people I knew, I was in the marching band. I did color guard/winter guard, which took me places I never thought I’d go. Not only did we travel outside of Mobile, we traveled within the city to some of the most popular food chains and teen hangouts.
One of my all-time favorite places to grab a bite to eat is Foosackly’s. Selling the best (this is extremely biased but oh well) chicken in the whole entire state of Alabama. Their slogan is ‘You Can’t Fake the Foo’ and honestly, you really can’t. Foosackly’s, commonly shortened to ‘Foo,’ was the prime suspect for my growing addiction and my favorite place to meet up with my friends during school, after school, even before football games. Smoothie King was also a favorite, as it was the $5 Large Smoothie Fridays that made Fridays one of my favorite days. You’d always find a friendly face in the lines of either of the two, Smoothie King or the Foo. It’s one of the traditions of Mobile that we hold dear to our teenage hearts.
Mardi Gras brings a lot of folks down to the 251 for parades and festivities. When you hear people yelling, “Laissez le bon temps roule!” whether they slaughter the Cajun words for ‘Let the good times roll’ or not, you’ll know its Mardi Gras season. Though those pesky New Orleans folks will definitely try to persuade you into thinking that NOLA is the birthplace of Mardi Gras, think again and do some research because Mobile is the birthplace of the favorite holiday of nearly everyone around the Gulf Coast. And you’ll enjoy that break you get just for enjoying the last week of parade season. There’s about two weeks of parading with local Mardi Grass associations and groups before the finale of Fat Tuesday, where the day is full of parades downtown from sun up to sun down. Another huge thing about Mardi Gras are the balls (I’ve never been to any sadly) and the fact that the people downtown are so nice. You’re never in danger and you probably won’t find someone out there who wants to ruin the day. The people down there, white or black gay or straight, don’t care about differences. Mardi Gras brings us together regardless of our backgrounds or our differences, which gives us a chance to enjoy each other and make new friends and build bonds. It’s one of our greatest features about our city and also a fan favorite for most.
The Port City itself doesn’t have any beaches, sadly. Though, Dauphin Island and Baldwin County have beautiful beaches. Well, I personally don’t like Dauphin Island Beach, but I know Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are pretty nice. We also have events at the Wharf over in Baldwin County like concerts and stuff that never fail to bring people together yet again. And trust me, we love to party. Not only do we have that, but we have certain festivals here too. The Hangout Music Festival and The International Festival are two of the many local events we have here. My personal favorite is the International Festival. This was my first year attending, and I loved it. Though the prices were a bit pricey, it gave me an inside look on just how many countries are represented in our town. From what I saw at the International Festival, there’s many. At the festival, you could get a henna tattoo from India, try Hi-Chew candy from Japan, write a wish and stick it in a wall in Israel, along with playing Senet in Egypt. That day I learned a lot; I ate a lot to because let me tell you, there’s a German cake with apple in it and it was #amazing. There were many vendors there selling food and trinkets that were also a bit pricey, though I remember buying a pair of chopsticks from China and I watched a 6-year-old kid play the accordion in Romania. It was like I traveled the globe in one day, in one place at the Civic Center and I know for a fact I’ll be there next year. If you can’t afford to travel the world, traveling the Civic Center at the International Festival can be even better (and cheaper!).
Downtown Mobile (where I live) is a hotspot for teens and young adults to let loose on the weekends and hang out. I recently found out, like this year, that Mobile is an art based city. There is an abundant amount of local artists and galleries that sell their artwork. The Art walk is a very popular even that happens one Friday out of every month where you come and participate in certain events and walk the streets of the artsy Downtown Mobile. I personally have not yet been, but I’m hoping to visit soon. Along with the Art walk, we have Bienville Square and Cathedral Square, small parks in the center of Downtown Mobile where most of the events are set up and take place. At Christmas, the fountain at Bienville Square is turned into a beautiful Christmas tree, which is always a sight to see. Downtown is always so pretty at night during a holiday. Another cool feature in Downtown is the Moonpie drop. On New Year's’ Eve, hundreds of people gather around Bienville Square where a Giant, Edible Moonpie is positioned on top of one of the nearby buildings. While you wait, there’s usually music and the local eateries stay open in case you want something to eat or something warm to drink. When the countdown begins, the Moonpie drops until the clock strikes 12. Though, it gets crowded down there, so if you’re going or get invited to go; don’t get lost like I nearly did a year ago. Everything's better with friends and I promise the buddy system truly works.
Though yes, Mobile is a slowly developing town with a sort of crummy mall (It’s slowly getting better though woohoo) and the southern charm you’d never expect to be truly real, it’s my home and for a lot of people in the near future, it’ll be home for them. You’ve got to figure your way around the big city. Try to take a native Mobilian with you, or befriend one who won’t mind showing you around and helping this city become home for you, or your home away from home. I honestly hate it took me so long to discover the beauty and excitement of the city around me, but I hope that others will grow to love it as much as I have.
Welcome home. Welcome to Mobile.