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The Dart: T-day is free day for kids

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Lee Lancaster, 13, left, drives to the basket while playing basketball with his friends Chandler Wiley, 12, center, and Christian Fort, 13, right, Wednesday afternoon at the Fort family house in Vidalia. The group of teens are neighbors, and played together on their week off from school.

VIDALIA — While Thanksgiving week may mean hours spent cooking, traveling and shopping for most parents, for children around the Miss-Lou it means a week with no school.

When The Dart landed just off Concordia Avenue in Vidalia on Wednesday, a group of children were making the best of their week-long vacation.

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT Olivia Lancaster, 9, pushes Kaylee Cole McMullen, 1, in a toy car Wednesday morning while playing with their siblings and neighbors.

“We’ve been hanging out and playing football and basketball,” Christian Fort said.

Fort, 13, a seventh-grade student at Vidalia Junior High, spent the week running from one house to the next with his friends Lee and Olivia Lancaster and Chandler Wiley.

“This week we’ve been finding stuff in Lee’s garage,” Fort said.

Lee, an eighth-grade student at Cathedral School, said he has enjoyed his week sleeping in and playing with friends.

“It’s been fun just doing whatever this week,” Lee said.

At 9 years old, Olivia is the youngest of the group and the only girl.

“I like playing football and basketball with them,” Olivia said. “They are mean sometimes because they don’t let me play football, but I can hang with them though.”

Wiley, 12, is a seventh-grade student at Vidalia Junior High School. He said the best thing about being out of school for the holidays was being able to come over and hang out with his friends.

“I live across the highway, so it’s fun to be able to come over,” Wiley said. “We play so hard sometimes, I get headaches.”

Vickie Fort, Christian’s mother, said she didn’t mind the kinds coming and going.

“They just go from house to house having fun,” Vickie said. “I love having them around so I can keep an eye on them.”

Vickie also keeps Chandler’s younger brother Will, 5, and Keaton Havard, 9, who play together in Vickie’s backyard.

“It’s fun coming over to my friend’s house,” Havard said. “I like playing football in the backyard.”

“It’s fun having all the kids around,” Vickie said.

Will and Chandler are the sons of April Kraft and Darren Wiley. Havard is the son of Cade and Rhonda Havard. Lee and Olivia’s parents are Heather and Jamie Lancaster.