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First Vidalia Mardi Gras parade a hit

VIDALIA — Some residents who attended Vidalia’s first Mardi Gras parade said the celebration on wheels Saturday afternoon was the best parade the town has seen.

“That was the best parade ever,” 9-year-old Garrett Martin said.

And Martin’s mother, Sherry McCage, said her family never skips a parade in the Miss-Lou.

Martin’s 10-year-old brother Gregory, whose neck was stacked high with colorful, cheap, plastic pearls, said after the parade he was ready to go home and tally up the goods.

He said he would count the additional beads in his plastic throw bag and drape them around his neck and then enjoy his well-earned candy.

“In this (parade), there were a lot more floats and a lot more decorations,” McCage said.

The parade included approximately eight floats, some of which will roll again in the Natchez parades. There were also cavalries of horses, four-wheelers and motorcycles.

The Miss-Lou Prancing Misses performed in shiny silver pants, black sequin tops, white boots and feathered Mardi Gras masks.

“I thought the girls — the dancers — were good,” McCage said.

Sandra Copeland skipped an opportunity to ride in the float with her husband, Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, in order to catch Vidalia’s first Mardi Gras soiree from outside of City Hall.

Copeland was all smiles when her daughter’s sister-in-law, who was riding on the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office float, slammed her with handfuls of beads.

“(The parade) is really nice,” Copeland said. “It’s noisy, which is good.”

Many of the floats and cars rolling by played Mardi Gras tunes loudly, giving riders and spectators a chance to shake it.

Copeland said the turnout was great, and what makes Vidalia parades special is the variety of people who emerge on Carter Street to enjoy them.

“There are all walks of life out here,” she said.

Copeland said people seemed to come “out of the woodwork” from surrounding towns in Louisiana and Mississippi to attend the parade.

Copeland’s only complaint was the sun-shiny day could have been a little cooler, which was probably not too much to ask in mid-February.

She said everyone seemed to enjoy the parade, even the adults.

The grand marshals of the parade were Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland, Vidalia Alderman Triand “Tron” McCoy and Vidalia Police Chief Arthur Lewis.

Parade organizer Cassandra Lynch said in the future, she is working on starting a committee for the parade to help organize the event every year.

Gellana Bennett, who went to the parade by herself but was by no means alone in the crowd, said she was impressed with Saturday’s showing. The crowd was larger at Saturday’s parade than at the longer-running Christmas parade, she said.

“Everyone is excited, and there are more people,” Bennett said.

Based on the success of Saturday’s parade, Copeland said she looks forward to the February 2012 parade.

“It will be even better next year,” she said.

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