Thousands line up for a taste of Mardi Gras|[2/6/05]

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 7, 2005

Main Street manager Rosalie Theobald best captured the atmosphere of Vicksburg’s fourth annual Mardi Gras parade: “Yee ha!”

The beads flew fast and furious on Washington Street as the parade brought several thousand people downtown to party on a clear and relatively warm Saturday afternoon.

The parade, sponsored by the City of Vicksburg Main Street Program, featured 40 floats riding from Veto to Grove streets.

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Mardi Gras, translated from French as “fat Tuesday,” is a pre-Lenten festival. Its date is based on the Catholic calendar. This year’s king and queen, as voted by the parade-sponsoring Main Street board of directors, was Mayor Laurence Leyens and his wife, Shelley Corson Leyens.

Main Street chairman Harry Sharp, who wore a King Arthur costume while leading the parade, called it a success.

“Everyone seemed to be having a good time. That’s what it’s all about. That, and showing off the new downtown,” Sharp said.

Police estimated the parade attracted 6,000 to 8,000 people.

Carolyn Harrison of the Red Hat Society’s Dixie Divas chapter said this year was the first for the group to be in the parade. She said the society, “which is women of 50 having fun,” threw 1,500 bead necklaces.

“We’re already planning for next year,” she said at the end of the parade route.

Downtown stores and restaurants were bustling before, during and after the parade. Cafe Beignet, which has been opened “unofficially” for a month, had its best day yet, owner Eddie Boyd said.

“It was fantastic. Everyone’s just been beautiful,” Boyd said while hosting a crawfish boil.

Chandler Bonelli of Vicksburg rode his Honda Gold Wing motorcycle with the Gold Wing Road Riders Chapter E. Eighteen bikes drove the route, he said.

“Every year (the parade) gets bigger and better,” Bonelli said.

Monique Davis, a 15-year-old freshman at Callaway High School in Jackson, danced with 18 other members of the Dancing Dolls. The group practices three times a week in order to dance in four to five parades a month.

“I liked it when the camera was in my face,” Davis said.

Parade judge Patty Mekus, whose face was hidden by dark gold glasses and a mass of purple, green and gold feathers was pleased with the number of families lining the sidewalks.

“It’s a good, clean family event,” she said.