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Phoenix ready to put Mardi Gras in krewes control

Leadership Natchez members, from left, Jacob Cowart, Madeline England, Brenda Evans and Lee Hash were apart of a cooperation with the Krewe of Phoenix to make a float for the Mardi Gras parade to collect for Pleasant Acre Day School. Pleasant Acre then resells the bead the following Mardi Gras as a fundraiser. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Leadership Natchez members, from left, Jacob Cowart, Madeline England, Brenda Evans and Lee Hash were apart of a cooperation with the Krewe of Phoenix to make a float for the Mardi Gras parade to collect for Pleasant Acre Day School. Pleasant Acre then resells the bead the following Mardi Gras as a fundraiser. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

By Sarah Cook

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — Along with beads, love will also be in the air tonight as the Krewe of Phoenix hosts its annual Mardi Gras parade.

Taking inspiration from ’80s rock band Queen — and Valentine’s Day — the theme of the night is “Crazy Little Thing Called Love.”

The parade begins at 5 p.m. with floats lining up on Broadway Street. Some 40 floats will travel down Canal, Main and Franklin streets.

Parade Director Curtis Moroney said he expects this year’s parade to be the biggest one yet.

“It’s like a huge party,” Moroney said of the time leading up to the festivities. “A big part of the fun is getting ready and tailgating, then the real fun happens when the floats roll out.”

And with krewe names like Ice Queens, Pink Flamingos and Queen Bees, attendees can expect plenty of flashy costumes and colorful floats, Moroney said.

Krewe of Pink Flamingos members, from left, Holly Sandifer, Jan Scarborough, Susanne Vegas, Frances Cothern and Ann Gaude paint the krewe’s float in preparation for the Mardi Gras at 5 p.m. tonight. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Krewe of Pink Flamingos members, from left, Holly Sandifer, Jan Scarborough, Susanne Vegas, Frances Cothern and Ann Gaude paint the krewe’s float in preparation for the Mardi Gras at 5 p.m. tonight. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Also, thanks to Leadership Natchez, no beads will go to waste this year. Anchoring the parade, Leadership Natchez will have a special “throwback float” benefitting Pleasant Acre Day School, a learning center for adults with special needs.

“People can throw back their beads at the end of the parade and we will donate them to the school,” said Jacob Cowart, Leadership Natchez president.

Each year, Pleasant Acre students sort recycled parade beads by color, size and length. Then, they sell the beads back to the community, which funds the school’s summer trips to Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“A lot of people throw their beads away anyway, so this is a great way to put them to good use,” Cowart said. “And, you get to experience the same thrill that people on the floats enjoy of throwing the beads.”

The Divine Dixie Divas—a new krewe on the parade lineup—will also bring special meaning to this year’s festivities. Comprised of 30 “southern belles,” the Divas will honor former krewe member Christina Hall, who died last April.

“Christina was one of the original eight ladies who started the Divine Dixie Divas,” said Marla Farmer, krewe president. “She was the epitome of a true southern belle. She showed class and grace in everything she did.”

On the back of the Divas’ float, a special plaque will hang in Hall’s honor.

“She will always ride on the back with us and have the last word,” Farmer said.

The Divas will debut their float costumes at 4 p.m. today outside Bowie’s Tavern.

And even though chilly temperatures are forecasted for the evening, Moroney encouraged the community to grab a jacket and take part in the annual parade.

“The annual Krewe of Phoenix parade is one of the things that makes Natchez such a fun and unique place,” he said.