Mayor Sandy Stimpson announced today the official opening of the first phase of Mardi Gras Park, after almost a year of construction.

Roughly half of the funding, or about $980,000, for the first phase of the park was donated to the city by the Hearin-Chandler Foundation through the Mobile Carnival Association.

“Events like today make everyone in the city feel better, but one person usually has a vision,” Stimpson said. “Bill Hearin had a vision and the resources. This is truly a public-private partnership.”

The second phase will cost about $2 million and Stimpson joked during his remarks that the work would begin, as soon as the city found another “benefactor.”

Phase one of the park included new sidewalks, parking, a raised mound of grass for viewing Mardi Gras parades, steps, a retaining and seven Carnival-themed statues to honor Mobile’s connection with Fat Tuesday. The statues were a condition of private funding.

Phase two will include a pavilion, Stimpson said, which he hopes can host a New Orleans-style French market in the future.

“This area we hope becomes a real magnet for the future,” Stimpson said.

Councilman Levon Manzie, who represents the downtown area, agreed with Stimpson and thanked his council colleagues for supporting the project.
“This is a great day for District 2,” he said. “It’s a great day for the City of Mobile.”

Manzie said it makes sense that the city would support a Carnival-themed park, given that Mobile is the birthplace of modern Mardi Gras celebrations.