SCV to hold new parade

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 21, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A Confederate parade will make its way through downtown Natchez Saturday, with marchers in authentic Civil War dress led by Grand Marshal and country music star Trace Atkins.

The event is being sponsored by the Brig. Gen. William T. Martin Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Other SCV groups, the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Order of the Confederate Rose are also taking active roles.

In addition to honoring the memory of Confederate soldiers, the event will boost the area’s tourism economy by bringing in an estimated 300 to 500 people from throughout the South, said event co-organizer Robert Crook. &uot;These are folks that will tour the (antebellum houses), shop at our stores and eat at our restaurants,&uot; he said.

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&uot;We want to create an annual event, something that can grow over the year and benefit Natchez and any and all businesses associated with tourism,&uot; said Richard Crook of Natchez.

Richard Crook is organizing the event with his brother, Robert Crook, and fellow Natchez resident Eddie Whitehead.

The day will start with 7:15 a.m. memorial service at Veterans Memorial Park, featuring a musket salute, special music, a wreath-laying ceremony and an appearance by Miss Southern Belle 2003 Keely Ballard.

The parade itself will start at 9:30 a.m. near the antebellum house Rosalie on Broadway Street, moving up Main Street to Rankin Street to Jefferson Street and back to Broadway.

Although he’s not expected to perform, Atkins will be available at the gazebo on the bluff to sign autographs, said Robert Crook, a Natchez native who lives in Baton Rouge but is now working in Texas.

Meanwhile, demonstrations of Civil War artillery will be conducted every hour on the hour at the bluff and are tentatively planned for an area near the Ramada Hilltop as well, he said.

&uot;We’ll explain how they were loaded and what each man’s responsibility on the gun was,&uot; Robert Crook said. &uot;Hopefully, we’ll do a 7 p.m. night firing, kind of like the Fourth of July.&uot;

Some reenactors will camp out at Historic Jefferson College during the weekend, Robert Crook said.

As of earlier this week, reenactors from Maryland, Kentucky, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas, as well as Mississippi and Louisiana, had said they would take part.

&uot;The response has been phenomenal,&uot; Richard Crook said. &uot;I’m surprised and grateful.&uot;

&uot;Ninety-nine percent of the responses we’ve gotten have been positive,&uot; Robert Crook said. &uot;There will always be those who don’t like what you’re doing, but that’s to be expected.&uot;