Plans on track for 158th Annual Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade

Published 8:59 am Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Everything is on track for the 158th Annual Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade, according to Laura Ann Jackson, who chairs the Committee for the Miss-Lou Memorial Day Parade.

She said the long-running event will be a memorable experience for local residents and visitors.

“This event is an important part of Natchez and Vidalia history,” Jackson said. “It’s part of our heritage. It’s our way of honoring our military service members, especially those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.”

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The parade will take place on Monday, May 27.

It is known for having long lines of participants, sometimes in the hundreds,  marching from Vidalia, across the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge and to the Natchez National Cemetery at 41 Cemetery Road, where a ceremony is held. The site for the ceremony is on the west side of the cemetery overlooking the riverfront.

“This year, we’re going strong and we’re going to have special guests from out of town that include a church group from Chicago,” Jackson said.

Jackson noted this year’s guests will include filmmaker James Theres, the executive producer and director of the film, “The 30th of May” (2016).

Theres described the film as the “amazing, untold story of an African American Memorial Day tradition in the Deep South that dates back to the end of the Civil War.”

“I look forward to coming back to Natchez and participating in the 30th of May celebration, one of the longest-running, consecutive Memorial Day observances in the country,” said Theres. “It’s a tradition like no other dating back to the end of the civil war.”

Williams Terrell, publisher and editor of The Bluff City Post, has covered the parade for more than 30 years. He said it is an event that “you just have to see.”

“People come from everywhere,” he said. “Some come from Seattle, Washington, to walk over that bridge. That is something to see and experience.”

This year, Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and the Rev. Louis Banks, pastor of Union Baptist Church, Vidalia, will serve as grand marshals.

Banks is also a member of the American Legion Post 590 in Vidalia, said Jackson.

 The ceremony

The ceremony at the cemetery will start at 11 a.m. and will last for one hour. Jackson will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The program will feature retired Army Sgt. Linda McClure of Alexandria as the guest speaker. She will be introduced by her husband, retired Army Lt. Col. Jeff McClure.

The Natchez High School AF JROTC will present the colors, followed by Nolan Cubie, who will lead the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance. Charlotte Taylor, the assistant director of the Mississippi National Cemetery Complex at Natchez, will give the Welcome.

The program will include solo performances by Mayor Dan Gibson and 2019 Cathedral High School graduate Damira McGruder.

Jackson said McGruder is a pre-med biology student at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, where she plans to graduate this year.

 A Memorial Day Band musical solo will be presented by Caymond Riley of the Elnora Riley Group in Vidalia.

 “The late Ms. Elnora Riley had been part of this program since I was a child,” said Jackson. “She was a member of the Women’s Relief Corps.”

 “Taps” will be performed by Master Sgt. Wilbert Washington, director of the AF JROTC. Taylor will give the Closing Remarks.

 Parade route

Jackson outlined the parade route as follows:

The lineup will begin at 8 a.m. at Zion Baptist Church at 601 Magnolia Street in Vidalia. At 9 a.m., the parade will start at the foot of the Louisiana side of the bridge.

t will proceed across the bridge to the Natchez Visitor Center at 640 S. Canal St., where the  participants will stop for a 30-minute break.

Shuttles will be available at the Visitor Center and cemetery.

From the Visitor Center, the participants will proceed north on Canal to Franklin Street. At Franklin, they will move along to Pearl Street and from Pearl to Oak Street.

From Oak, they will proceed to Maple Street and then travel north to Cemetery Road.

Committee members working with Jackson to organize the procession include Douglas McCallister, Dorothy Sanders, Renard Chatman and Nathaniel Williams.

 For more information, call Laura Ann Jackson at 601-446-9052.