Mardi Gras continues to grow in Vicksburg

Published 1:05 am Sunday, March 2, 2014

Vicksburg really can let the good times roll.
The third-annual Carnaval de Mardi Gras and Gumbo Cook-off at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center was such a success that organizers already are planning for 2015 and would-be contestants are vowing to further spice up the competition.
The cook-off, held in the area of Crawford Street between Cherry and Adams, featured 20 cooking teams. Every one of them ran out of gumbo as up to 1,000 people poured into the center.
The brick street is perfect for a small festival, as was proved in the fall during the Hobbs Freeman Festival. The Balfour House’s driveway is accessible from Cherry Street. The house on the southwest corner has access from Adams. Pemberton’s Headquarters — the only other house on the south side of the street — has no driving access. The SCHC occupies the north side of the street. Closing both ends is ideal.
The cook-off is not alone in this weekend’s success stories.
It followed by only one hour the beginning of the 13th annual Vicksburg Mardi Gras Parade, sponsored by Vicksburg Main Street. It featured more floats than in years past and had an estimated 4,000 onlookers.
The two events are natural partners. Throngs of people head downtown for the parade, and the family-friendly parade atmosphere carries over to the gumbo cook-off. Beer is sold to those who want it, but there was no sign of any security problems throughout the day.
Mobile, Ala., claims the monicker as the birthplace of Mardi Gras. New Orleans is most-associated with the weeks leading up to the start of the Lenten season, but in the Big Easy, debauchery can take over.
For a city its size, though, Vicksburg is becoming a Central Mississippi hub for Mardi Gras.
The best part is the residents and visitors are on board. The crowds Saturday certainly show that.
A special recognition to the thousands of man-hours that went into planning not just the cook-off, but the parade and all the activities around them. Many of those people work in anonymity. Their efforts are appreciated, though.
Let the countdown to 2015 begin.