Pleasant Acre Day School selling beads for parade

Published 1:52 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

by Sabrina Simms

NATCHEZ — Pleasant Acre Day School has an entire room full of beads sorted, wrapped and ready to be purchased for this weekend’s Mardi Gras parades.

The school behind the National Guard Armory on Liberty Road has recycled Mardi Gras beads for nearly 30 years, the school’s director Mary Ann Foggo-Eidt said.

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The Beads Galore Shoppe is open 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, but will be closed this Friday for the Krewe of Phoenix parade. Either one string of specialty beads, a set of six large beads, or a bundle of regular sized beads cost $1.

Foggo-Eidt said proceeds from the year-round bead sale help pay for the school’s utilities and fund a special field trip to Biloxi for its students as a treat for their work throughout the year.

“The community has always been so generous,” Foggo-Eidt said. “We’ve operated with no funding since 1959 … just the community’s support. Still, it’s a shoestring budget. We recycle everything, not just beads. We get gifts of kindness that we could not function without.”

Foggo-Eidt said Pleasant Acre was founded in 1959 when special-needs children with low IQs had no other means of formal education. Since then, public schools have adapted to accommodate more special needs children.

She said Pleasant Acre now accommodates adults older than 21 — some who have been there since they were children — teaching them life skills and life enrichment programs.

Foggo-Eidt said the Beads Galore Shoppe is much larger than when it first began. The school initially did not have a separate room for the beads that it does today, so many of the beads were stored and displayed in the front office during Mardi Gras season.

Leadership Natchez raised money for the new Mardi Gras room in 2007. The room  also serves as a kitchenette and lunchroom outside of the parade season.

“We brought back a big tub of beads from the Coast, and that was our beginning.” Foggo-Eidt said. “Then it just grew from there.”

She said the bulk of the school’s bead supply comes from the throwback float at the end of the parade. Parade goers can choose to toss onto the float any beads they do not want to take home. This year the throwback float will follow behind this year’s second line at the conclusion of the parade.Foggo-Eidt said two of her students, Haley Freeman and Sarah Cichirillo, are the “queens of beads” and work tirelessly with their sorting.

“Nothing thrills them any more than to see someone come in and buy their beads,” Foggo-Eidt said. “They work on them all year long and, of course, they love for people to come in. It’s such an accomplishment to see someone buying the beads that you’ve worked on. That in itself is more fulfillment than anything else. It’s the self-satisfaction that you’ve done something productive.”