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Organizers: Local Memorial Day parade tradition will continue with modifications

VIDALIA — The 154-year-old tradition of parading across the Mississippi River on Memorial Day will continue this year but in a different manner because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade Co-chair Laura Ann Jackson said this year, instead of trekking across the bridge to the Natchez National Cemetery on foot, all participants will be masked and gloved and stay inside their vehicles through the duration of the event.

Between 500 and 600 people typically show up on Memorial Day to march in the annual Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade, organizers said.

“We would appreciate it if everyone would still come out and join us,” Jackson said. “Even though it is going to be done in a different style this year, it is going to go on. … It’s all about our veterans.”

Parade co-chair and Vidalia Alderman Robert Gardner said the caravan would meet first in Louisiana at Magnolia and Alabama streets beginning at 8 a.m. and would drive across the U.S. 84 bridge to the Natchez Visitor and Reception Center.

“It will be a car parade and we’re encouraging everyone to stay in their vehicles,” he said. “Participants are welcome to decorate their cars patriotically.”

Jackson said Louisianans would meet up with Natchez paraders at the Visitor’s Center and take off again at 9:30 along the parade route ending at the Natchez National Cemetery.

Instead of hosting the traditional Memorial Day celebration on the cemetery grounds, parade participants would disperse at the cemetery to respect COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings, Jackson said.

Gardner said paraders would be joined by a community band and grand marshals Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell and Rosa Irving-Demby, a long-time educator in Concordia Parish.

“Regardless of the circumstances, let’s not allow our tradition to fail. Let’s keep on keeping on to the end. I encourage any and everyone to please come out with your patriotic spirit to honor all veterans of the U.S.A.,” Gardner said.

Gardner said businesses or individuals who would like to sponsor the event may do so by mailing a check to P.O. Box 716 Vidalia, LA 71373 or by calling 318-719-5702.