Mall rats come for exercise

Published 12:42 am Wednesday, July 4, 2007

NATCHEZ — The mall doesn’t generally conjure up images of healthy living, but for these self-titled mall rats it does.

They aren’t mall rats like rodents that scamper in store corridors, and they aren’t sugar-fueled hormone overloaded teens that cruise the mall looking for their first kiss.

They come when the sun has barely risen, they park in the back lot, and they have a secret way to get in — they know the custodian’s name.

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“We walk almost three miles, six loops is about two miles in the mall,” said Ruthie Cole, 68. “Here in the mall there are no hills, no thrills and no spills.”

Cole walks the mall four days a week with her friends, Clyde Savoy, 73, and 71-year-old Fred and Kate Ferguson.

The group meets Monday through Thursday behind the mall, near the movie theater, to kick on their shoes and strut off some calories.

“We walk to help our hearts,” Fred Ferguson said as he turned the corner near JCPenney’s. “(Walking) also helps our hearts.”

Everyone in the group walks for the everyday health reasons but Savoy has a reason of his own as well.

“The walking helps my diabetes, I swear it lowers my blood sugar,” Savoy said. “I try to walk an hour each day.”

Savoy is the oldest member of the group, which makes it understandable that he has walked in the mall the longest. He started in 1992.

The group laughs and carries on as they pass store after closed store.

“There is probably more news spilled here, at least about Natchez, than anywhere else,” Kate Ferguson said.

They wake up long before the loud, gossiping mall crowd does, but the group has as much fun as anyone else who frequents the mall, just for a better reason.

“We walk at least two miles because that’s what they say to do to be healthy,” Cole said, as she left through the door the custodian unlocked.