February 27, 1827. Groups of masked students danced in the streets, marking the beginnings of the city's Mardi Gras celebrations. The Mardi Gras celebration was brought to the region by French settlers towards the end of the 1600s. By the time students in New Orleans danced in the streets in costumes and masks the celebration of Carnival had been popular in Mobile, AL, for more than 100 years. The New Orleans student celebrations were inspired by their Paris studies. Within five years, a French plantation owner had begun raising money to fund the celebration. The first fully organized Mardi Gras occurred in 1857.