Mardi Gras meet draws more than 400 gymnasts

Published 6:30 pm Friday, February 5, 2016

Mardi Gras isn’t just going to be celebrated downtown this weekend but also at 3422 Wisconsin Ave.

GymSouth is hosting its seventh annual Mardi Gras Classic this weekend with 425 girls ages 4 to 18 competing in 11 different sessions over three days.

“It’s just good to have exposure for gymnastics in Vicksburg,” GymSouth owner Cherry Robbins said.

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Saturday’s competition begins at 8 a.m. and will continue through five sessions until the final awards of the night at 8 p.m. The three-session competition Sunday will also start at 8 a.m. and will end at 4 p.m. with a final awards ceremony.

Three gyms from Louisiana, one from Arkansas and the rest, about eight, gyms from Mississippi will compete in the all-girl meet. The GymSouth team has 21 girls competing.

The girls compete on compulsory levels 1 through 10 and Xcel levels bronze, silver, gold, platinum and diamond. Gymnasts will compete in vault, bars, beam and floor.

The competition has a Mardi Gras theme because it’s the right time of year and the idea was unique.

“No one else was doing it, and it’s just a lot of fun because the decorations are just great and gaudy and tacky and anything goes,” Robbins said.

The girls parade around the gym as their teams are being introduced, and they get to throw beads into the audience.

“It’s a lot of fun for the girls, and the parents like it too,” Robbins said.

The team members’ parents work together to make the meet happen, and the recreational, or non-competing, gymnasts’ parents donate items for the concession stand. Robbins said they were ahead of schedule in planning and preparation.

Having a meet like this at GymSouth is important to the whole community, Robins said, adding it’s good exposure to the sport of gymnastics in Vicksburg, it supports the gym, it gives the recreational gymnasts a chance to witness a meet and it also brings a number of visitors to town.

“It’s just a good thing for Vicksburg all the way around when you have this many families coming in town over a weekend,” Robbins said.

Robbins anticipates about 2.5 audience members per competing gymnast and said the gym fills up fast during the larger sessions.

“We can have 100–150 people in the gym,” Robbins said.

The money raised during the competition goes to putting on the meet, but any extra revenue is put in savings for new equipment to be purchased for the gym.

“It takes us usually a couple years to make enough money to buy a new piece of equipment, but that’s what I like to do with it because the equipment doesn’t last forever,” Robbins said.

Price of admission is $5 for a single day, $7 for two days or $10 for three days and children ages 3 and under are free.