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Vidalia Mardi Gras parade Saturday

VIDALIA — Love, beads and candy will all be up in the air this Valentine’s Day weekend as Vidalia celebrates Mardi Gras in the annual Krewe of Vidal parade.

The Krewe of Vidal parade begins at 3 p.m. Saturday, said parade chairman and founder Cassandra Lynch.

Lynch said she is celebrating in honor and memory of her mother Ellen Anderson, also called “Sister Mary,” who died last year.

Having grown up in New Orleans, Lynch said Mardi Gras has always been a special time of year for her mother and her.

“This parade will be done always in her memory,” Lynch said. “This will be my first Mardi Gras without her.”

Parade floats will line-up starting at 2 p.m. at Vidalia Upper Elementary School and will take off at 3 p.m. toward Vidalia High School, Lynch said.

This year’s participants include a variety of floats; horses; four-wheelers; motorcycles; law enforcement; the recently crowned Miss Vidalia, Ryleigh Probst; and — as always — Vidalia High School’s marching band.

Because this is an election year for the Town of Vidalia, Lynch said she wouldn’t be surprised to see candidates jump into the parade line as well.

“I can’t say how many there will be,” Lynch said. “Because there is no entry fee, people just come over — some from across the river — and fall right in line. Our only rule is that floats have to be family-friendly and not offensive to anyone. It is all about unity and love.”

Lynch said she expects sunny skies and smiling faces on Saturday thanks to the community’s support and participation, particularly the Town of Vidalia officials, Tab Doré and the Vidalia Beautification Committee.

In the years to come, Lynch said Vidalia will continue to “raise the bar” on their Mardi Gras celebrations.

“It’s the biggest free party we’ve got around here,” she said. “… The police department will make sure everyone is safe and we’re going to have a little fun, relax and throw some candy and beads. As always, I’d like to thank the Town of Vidalia and city officials for being so supportive of this event each year. … The event is only as big as the people who choose to participate. Those are the people we are thankful to — those who take the time and energy to participate.”