Miss-Lou Mardi Gras parades set for Friday, Saturday

Published 12:30 am Sunday, February 4, 2018

by Sabrina Simms

NATCHEZ — The Miss-Lou will get into the Mardi Gras spirit when the season’s annual parades roll into this week.

Organizers are already getting preparing for the big events, including two new events — possibly the area’s first formal second line in Natchez and a children’s Mardi Gras parade in Vidalia.

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For the second year, the annual Krewe of Phoenix parade that will be a night event and will showcase artists and celebrities from all around the state of Mississippi.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday the parade will feature grand marshal Wyatt Waters, a Mississippi artist, with Robert St. John a renowned chef from Hattiesburg. The parade will take its traditional route that begins on Broadway Street, then heads down Canal Street where it will turn right on Main Street, then turn left on to Rankin Street, before turning on to Franklin Street.

Lauren Burns, social media and newsletter chairman and duchess Marie Therese on the Krewe of Phoenix royal court, said members of the court will be featured in the parade, including queen Rosalie XXXVI, Donna Corley Sessions and king Rex XXXVI, Raul Pete Cantu.

“They’ve been so eager and excited for this event,” Burns said. “We’re really trying to get everyone out. This is our second year doing the night parade. All our dukes and duchesses will have their costumes from the grand ball.”

Burns said the event is always popular.

“I think this is one of the biggest family fun events that you can go to in Natchez. There are so many floats in it … You will see colorful amazing designs and leave with more beads than you would think.”

Burns said the night following the parade, will be the Krewe of Phoenix Grand Ball, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Natchez Convention Center.

The cost of non-members to the Grand Ball is $65, which includes food and an open bar. All attendees must be 21 years or older. Tickets can be purchased in advance through the Venmo app.

There will also be a second line at the end of this year’s parade organized by the Natchez Festival of Music that will lead with the Bayou Brass Band. FOM marketing committee member TJ Bagget said it may be the first formal second line that Natchez has ever had.

“I don’t know that there’s ever been a formal second line in Natchez,” Baggett said, “It will be fun and gives everyone a chance to participate in the parade, including children and animals.”

There will be an umbrella decorating party at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday prior to the parade. Bystanders are encouraged to dress up and follow the band at the tail end of the parade where there will be a costume contest with various prizes.

“Costumes are encouraged,” Baggett said, “Hats, masks, hankies and umbrellas … We encourage well behaved animals.”

Vidalia parades

On Saturday, Vidalia will host two parades. The first is a children’s parade that will take place at 10 a.m. at the amphitheater on the Vidalia Riverfront.

For the event, children will bring decorated wagons, bicycles, ride-on toys or shoeboxes and march around the amphitheater. All participation is free.

Committee member Cassandra Lynch said the lineup for the children’s parade will start at 9 a.m. and marching will begin at 10 a.m.

“This year is the first year of doing the children’s parade because we wanted to get the community involved,” Lynch said.

Hot dogs, hot cocoa and lemonade will be for sale to help raise funds for future events. Mardi Gras T-shirts will also be sold at the event. Prices for the shirts range from $12 to $15 each.

Committee member Tab Dore said both the morning and evening events are for family participation and are free to attend.

Line up for the evening parade will begin at 4 p.m. The parade will begin at 5 p.m.

Organizers are still accepting float entries for the evening parade. There is no fee to enter a float and everyone is encouraged to participate.

“There’s no set theme for floats or requirements,” Dore said. “We’re trying to promote community involvement and community spirit … We want family fun.”

The parade will begin at Vidalia Lower Elementary School and continue down Concordia Avenue toward the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center on the riverfront.

“It represents the city … anyone is invited to participate,” Lynch said. “We’d like to thank the community for their ongoing support.”