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Crowds line downtown streets for Phoenix parade

NATCHEZ — Beth Ellis had gone 43 years without ever seeing a Mardi Gras parade, which is very difficult to manage for someone who grew up just a few hours away from New Orleans in Alexandria.

“There have always been parades, I have just never been able to go,” she said. “I have always heard some good stories about catching beads and all the beautiful colors of the floats.”

The rain held off and Ellis broke her streak, seeing a swarm of purple, gold and green slowly roll down the streets Friday evening when she attended the Krewe of Phoenix’s 29th annual Mardi Gras parade in Natchez.

“It was better than I could have imagined,” she said. “The atmosphere was just so different from any other parade I have been too.”

With one hand full of candy and the other clutching her 8-year-old daughter Tracy, Ellis said she was glad she made the choice to travel to Natchez for the parade.

“(Tracy) had never seen a parade period,” she said. “I figured if we were going to go to one, why not make a day out of it?”

Tracy said she and her mother had even been practicing for the parade at home by catching beads.

“My mom said she heard those beads come at you fast and you need to be prepared,” she said. “Good thing we did practice because so far I haven’t missed one yet.”

Natchez resident Henry Morrison watched from Franklin Street while the parade passed, leaving him with a neck full of beads.

“I have been coming to this parade for the past seven years,” he said. “And I make it my own personal challenge to try and collect more beads every year.”

Morrison said while his Mardi Gras challenge may seem easy, he plays by his own set of rules.

“You only count the ones you catch in the air,” he said. “And you have to stay in the same spot throughout the entire parade.”

With the last float passing him by, Morrison had surpassed his goal of 22 beads by four.

“I have some work ahead of me next year,” he said. “It’s going to be tough to beat 26, but I think I can get 30.”

Ferriday resident Margaret Peterson said she was thankful to have such a fun event so close to home.

“This is the fourth parade I have gone to this year in the area,” she said. “It’s nice to see that locally our leaders are putting on some fun, family events for everyone to participate in.”

Peterson said while she enjoyed attending the new parades in Vidalia and Clayton, the Krewe of Phoenix parade in Natchez is always her favorite to attend.

“There is just something about the feel of the floats as they march through the downtown area,” she said. “It just gives you a sense of the past and simpler times.”

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