Claiborne coffee klatch in the season

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 16, 2004

The Port Gibson Mardi Gras krewe chats after being served King Cake and coffee at Restoration Cafe. Krewe members are, from left, Constance Alford, Debbie Davis, Aubrey Carter, Joe Bilbro, Burnice Cleveland and Libby Hollingsworth. (Melanie Duncan ThortisThe Vicksburg Post)

[2/16/04]PORT GIBSON Mardi Gras festivities are on a larger scale in New Orleans, but some Port Gibson residents say they have a pretty good gig going themselves.

Each morning at about 9, five or six men and women meet at Davis Piano Works and Restoration Cafe for some Cajun music, King Cake and laughs.

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“We act silly and everyone gets on a sugar high,” said cafe owner Debbie Davis.

The morning affair began last year when Constance Alford returned home from a business trip to New Orleans with a King Cake baked sweet bread dough with gold, purple and green icing for everyone to share.

For the next few weeks, the friends met for coffee and cake each day until Mardi Gras.

“Last year, we did it for six weeks, and we all gained 10 pounds, so we had to make it shorter this year,” said Libby Hollingsworth.

This year, however, the festive mood is complete with purple, gold and green masks, hats and noisemakers.

The group includes Joe Bilbro, Burnice Cleveland, Alford, Hollingsworth and her husband, Al, Aubrey Carter, Claudia Beasley and Davis though whoever walks in the door is invited to join the conversation.

In fact, when someone walks in for a cup of coffee, the group picks up the noisemakers and the person is met with a loud welcome.

Topics around the table vary current news, political issues and the happenings around town. Most involve giving each other a hard way to go all in good fun.

Most of the revelers are retired, but as Bilbro was quick to point out, “Yeah, I’m retired. I got tired yesterday, and I’m gonna retire again today.”

Though not working full time, they all keep busy, whether it’s planning the city’s upcoming Heritage Festival or helping revive Main Street.

The Port Gibson Mardi Gras celebration may be a far stretch from the wild and rambunctious party in New Orleans, but the group still manages to have great time.