As Mardi Gras historian Emily Hearin wrote it: "On the evening of the 1939 Mardi Gras celebration, a merry group of six friends, along with their wives and dates, left the Tea Dance at the Elk's Lodge ... and decided it was too early to abandon Mardi Gras for the Lenten season.

"One of the group was a part owner of the Imperial Laundry. He suggested they make use of some convict suits from the Atmore Prison Farm that had just been washed and cleaned. There were no hats or masks with the suits, so they purchased Chinese coolie hats and masks from a street vendor and proceded to parade on foot ..."

That little group led to the formation in 1940 of the Mystic Stripers Society - a reference to the prison stripes they wore a year earlier. The group first paraded in 1948 with an emblem portraying two striped animals, a zebra and a tiger.

This year, the Stripers will parade on February 28 at 6:30 p.m. Their theme will be It's Good to Be Bad. The parade will include 17 floats, designed by Brent Amacker and built by Steve Mussell's Mirth Company.

To see the Mask's exclusive HD video of the 2018 parade, click HERE.

To see the Mask's exclusive gallery of photos from that parade, click on the image below:

 Mystic Stripers Society