Mardi Gras|Vicksburg gears up for its very own good time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carnival season is here again, and downtown Vicksburg is gearing up for Saturday’s ninth annual Mardi Gras parade which, for the first time, will feature a theme.

“It has gotten so big now. It’s for the whole family,” said Alice Hebler, owner of Paper Plus, one of many Washington Street shop owners who have been decorating their windows for Latin Carnivale, set to roll downtown at 2 p.m. Saturday.

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• Children’s mask-making workshop — 3:45-5 p.m. Friday; for ages 6 and older; Southern Cultural Heritage Center; Kathy Gibson, instructor; $10 per child; 601-631-2997 or

• Pre-parade events — Noon-2 p.m. Saturday at River Stage Plaza on Washington Street; free.

• Parade — 2 p.m. Saturday along Washington Street; theme, Latin Carnivale.

• Ball — 8 p.m. Saturday at SCHC; music by The Colonels; tickets: $35 in advance, $40 at door, $5 discount available for parade participants; to benefit Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation; 601-636-5010.

A theme was chosen this year to “add something extra,” said Vicksburg Main Street Program Director Kim Hopkins, like the elaborate festivals in Latin cultures.

“We decided Latin Carnivale would give us the opportunity to bring some of their activities to our own Mardi Gras celebration,” said Hopkins.

Norma Massey, owner of Fred-rick’s on Washington Street, said, “The floats are always awesome. (The parade) always brings a huge crowd — not just local people but people from Jackson, Port Gibson, Tallulah.”

For the Audubon Nature Store, which opened in December 2008, this will be the first year to operate during the Mardi Gras parade, store manager Stacey Massey said. The store has not been open on Saturdays, but is now.

“This is going to be new for us” said Massey, the daughter of Norma Massey. “I’ll be eager to see what it brings.”

Besides the theme, Main Street has added a few new things to the schedule this year.

Live music at River Stage Plaza, along with mask-making and moon jumps, will be offered free from noon to 2 p.m.

Also, a fundraiser, Make Your Mark for Main Street, has been organized. Patrons will paint a mark on a canvas for $1 to help raise money for Vicksburg’s Main Street Program, which aims to promote downtown growth. The finished art will hang in the Main Street office.

“Look for this to continue at various Main Street events,” said Hopkins.

After the parade, awards will be given to floats for Best in Show, Best Nonprofit, Best Business, Most Original and Most Enthusiastic. Judges will also look at windows and balconies, Hopkins said.

“If you have a little healthy competition, it makes you go the extra mile,” said Norma Massey.

A night of dancing will wrap up Saturday’s festivities. The eighth annual Mardi Gras ball, presented by the Vicksburg Foundation for Historic Preservation, will take place at 8 p.m. at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center. Tickets are $35 in advance or $40 at the door.

“We’re expecting everybody to have a good time,” said the foundation’s Nancy Bell. “There will be good food, and we’re hoping for good weather.”

The forecast Saturday calls for partly cloudy skies and a high of 49.

Also on the schedule is the Southern Cultural Heritage Center’s mask-making workshop for children. Set for 3:45 to 5 p.m. Friday, the event is for ages 6 and older and will be taught by Kathy Gibson. The fee is $10 per child.

Contact Tish Butts at