“All work shall cease. Sweepers shall stow their brooms. Serious matters will not be discussed. Problems will not occur. And most importantly celebration and revelry will dominate all of the ship’s plans while in the city of the port of Mobile.”
This warm welcome from Sandy Stimpson, mayor of Mobile, Alabama set the tone for the Sailors of USS Philippine Sea (CG 66) as they pulled in to participate in the oldest annual Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.
For years, Navy ships have been welcomed by the people of Mobile to take part in their Mardi Gras celebration. Though New Orleans may have popular claim to Mardi Gras, Mobile, Alabama, began holding the festival in 1703, 15 years before the celebration started in Louisiana. Based on a French-Catholic tradition, Mobile recognizes the celebration as a city-wide holiday.
USS Philippine Sea (PSE) has been in-port since Friday, Feb. 9, enjoying events to include the Floral Parade, Mardi Gras coronation ceremony, and the 28th Annual Joe Cain Classic 5K Run, to name a few. Additionally, the crew has hosted numerous public tours aboard PSE to connect with the public, share their story and communicate how the Navy operates worldwide to support our national security and economic prosperity.
“My favorite part about Mardi Gras so far has been going to the convention center to see the coronation ceremony of the Queen by King Felix III,” said Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Nick Baetens. “This has been a great environment. I’ve never been in anything like this before and I’m really happy that our ship could pull in and experience it.”
For many PSE Sailors, this visit was their first time attending Mardi Gras festivities, and also their first time wearing their formal dress blue uniform on liberty.
“To go out with the uniform on and to represent the Philippine Sea, the Navy, my shipmates and myself, it’s a good feeling,” said Boatswain’s Mate Seaman James Jobczynski. “People are extremely welcoming. You hit the rack at the end of the day and you think, ‘people care’.”
Continuing their Mardi Gras experience, PSE Sailors will be attending parades and other scheduled events through Fat Tuesday, Feb. 13.
The primary goal of Navy outreach is to increase Americans’ understanding that the Navy is operating forward and standing ready to execute any of its missions on a moment’s notice: defend the homeland, deter conflict, respond to crisis and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster response, and defeat aggression.
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