From Vicksburg to Boston, friends and fans celebrate the Pats’ Malcolm Butler

Published 12:15 am Sunday, February 22, 2015

022215-Malcolm Butler Parade-MAINSaturday’s parade downtown for Vicksburg native and Super Bowl XLIX hero Malcolm Butler was a chance for die-hards and casual fans alike to show out.

“This last Super Bowl was just unbelievable,” said Steve Fiore, a native of the Boston suburb of Millis, who arrived on Washington Street after a four-hour drive from Lafayette, La. with wife, Judy, and friends Katie Richard and Chris Hinschiff.

Accompanied by trusted pooches Pierre and Sassy, the quartet of travelers talked football and chomped burgers wearing Tom Brady jerseys and showcasing Patriot-themed Mardi Gras beads around their necks.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“I still remember when we were called the Patsies,” Fiore said. “We root for the Saints, too, because of where we live, but this last one for us was pretty awesome.”

Some among the thousands who braved cloudy skies grabbed a spot along Washington Street early to catch a glimpse of Butler, who rode a title float that welcomed him home. Personal stories connecting themselves to Butler weren’t tough to find.

“My sister used to babysit Malcolm,” said Debra Sampson, a teacher’s assistant at Beechwood Elementary, while stationed on a sidewalk bench near Washington and China streets with her two grandsons and fiancé. “And both of my fellow teacher assistants went to school with him. He was a quiet, shy, never said a whole lot. I’m just so happy for him.”

Jessica Wesley, another former schoolmate of Butler’s, rushed into Paper Plus before the parade to buy some red, white and blue balloons to tie to her husband’s truck to celebrate the day.

“When I saw all the colors and signs for this, I was like, wow!” Wesley said.

Interest in themed accessories for the Feb. 1 Super Bowl didn’t match previous Super Bowls that had featured either high-profile native sons or regional favorite teams, Paper Plus owner Mary Helen Welch said.

“We did a lot Broncos stuff for last year’s game, but not much at all this year,” Welch said. “I root for the Saints and that’s it.”

Organizers had estimated up to 4,000 or 5,000 people would show up to see the 127 groups, marching bands, cheerleading squads and others in the parade despite the forecast of rain. But, following Saturday’s parade, officials with the City of Vicksburg and the Vicksburg Police Department put estimates as high as 10,000 people.

Onlookers like J.D. Somme’, of New Orleans, hoped the sight of crowds on Washington Street was more frequent.

“I think it’s a good thing for Vicksburg,” Somme’ said.

As Butler passed through Vicksburg’s streets on Saturday, confetti shot from cannons on balconies. He wore his Patriots jersey — surrounded by his closest friends and family — while waving from atop a double-decker float that included a giant football and his No. 21 jersey number.