Good times to roll this weekend at Miss-Lou Mardi Gras parades, festival

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, February 15, 2023

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NATCHEZ — Residents in the Miss-Lou don’t need to travel very far to catch some beads and candy this Mardi Gras weekend, as Natchez and Vidalia both have parades to celebrate.

The annual Krewe of Phoenix Mardi Gras Parade rolls at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, followed by the Krewe of Vidal Mardi Gras Parade at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Krewe of Phoenix Parade

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Curtis Moroney, organizer of the Krewe of Phoenix Parade, said between 35 and 40 floats are expected to begin rolling at 6:30 p.m. sharp but floats begin lining up on Broadway Street by noon.

To ensure that the parade begins on time and that no one is trapped on the parade route, “we need everybody off of Broadway Street by noon,” he said. “No parking anywhere on Broadway all day. Once the parade starts, they can’t get out, and if they park in the wrong places the floats can’t get through. That’s not an order from me, but from the police and Natchez Public Works. We do everything we can to keep crucial streets open but for safety’s sake, once the parade starts rolling, we can let cars into the parade route. I’d like to thank the officers and the public works department for helping out with the traffic. It’s a real coordinated effort.”

Once the parade starts, no one should be parked on the parade route, but can park on any adjacent streets and walk to the parade route to watch the festivities, he said.

Moroney said the parade follows the standard route from Broadway to Franklin Street, then across Rankin Street to Main Street, then south on Canal Street to Orleans Street, then back to the starting point on Broadway Street.

Moroney said to expect some “brilliant” new float designs and some familiar favorites.

Jeremy Taylor’s decorated tractor to look like a steaming Polar Express in the Christmas parade last year was a huge hit, Moroney said, adding he is curious to see what Taylor will come up with next.

“You never know what is going to roll by,” he said. “Remind everyone to bundle up, because it’s going to be cold out, and enjoy the floats.”

Krewe of Vidal Parade

Vidalia continues to ramp up its Mardi Gras celebration with more fun after the floats finish rolling. The parade lineup is at 2 p.m. at Vidalia High School and the parade begins at 3 p.m. down Carter Street, said parade founder Cassandra Lynch.

“The parade is going to start at Vidalia High School and go down Carter Street and pass by Vidalia Upper Elementary and then to the Vidalia Riverfront,” she said. “We’re going to try to pull the community together by having some vendors and music on the riverfront at the amphitheater. There is no charge for the vendors.”

Serving as grand marshal this year is Bryce McGlothin, Lynch said. She expects the usual floats and faithful participants such as the Vidalia High School marching band and also some newcomers.

“The Ice Queens from Natchez will be in it this year. We want to thank them for coming on this side of the water,” she said. “It’s never too late to jump in the parade. There’s no entry fee. All we ask and expect is for everyone to be respectful and keep it decent. It’s a fun day for the whole family.”

Immediately after the parade, Lynch said to expect entertainment by WTYJ and DJ Chatman Midnight Rider. Ronnie Calhoun is also hosting a children’s float competition on the riverfront with prizes for first, second and third place winners, she said.

“They will decorate the float any way that they like,” she said. “It can be a wagon or perhaps a shoebox float. We just want them to be creative and also have a little fun with it.”

Lynch, who is also a member of the Vidalia Beautification Committee, said the reason for the addition of a festival after the parade is to encourage “unity in the community,” she said.

“We’re doing this to bring the community together in any way that we can. We had so much fun at the Christmas festival that we want to see them come out and have fun again.”

The parade honors her late mother, Ellen Anderson, also called “Sister Mary,” who loved Mardi Gras.

“This parade was created in 2011 because my mom wanted to see a Mardi Gras parade in Vidalia,” Lynch said. “That is what brought on the Krewe of Vidal in 2011. We had the support of Mayor Hyram Copeland, the police chief and Tron McCoy. We’ve been rolling ever since. I’m thankful that support has continued from Chief Joey Merrill and Mayor Buz Craft and the city employees for all that they do. The goal every year is to raise the bar and make it bigger and better.”