Let the good times roll, even in Mississippi

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Last year about this time, I was well into my second semester of graduate school at Ole Miss and planning my annual trip down to the Big Easy.

After attending elementary, high school and college in Louisiana, I had become accustomed to the time off I received for perhaps the most celebrated of all state holidays: Mardi Gras.

It was because of this, I hadn’t even thought to check my school schedule. It turns out, the University of Mississippi offers no Mardi Gras break.

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Simply put, I was shocked.

My mind raced back to elementary school days in Doyline, La., when each class made its own float and each student looked forward to Mardi Gras lunch, hoping they’d be the one to find the baby in their king cake, redeemable for a whole cake to take home.

My village (yes, population: 841) only got a sign on the interstate to alert where to exit for Lake Bistineau State Park. The attraction is home to an annual boat parade, a fun way to put our own twist on the festival season.

Then there was high school, where many tried and failed to celebrate the holiday like adults. It seems nearly as many MIPs were handed out as beads. Not to worry, I always made my parents proud by coming home with only a healthy haul of beads, cups and plush toys.

At Louisiana Tech, I experienced college on the quarter system, which typically left us with a week or more out of school at Mardi Gras for quarter break.

Each year I would pack up every bit of purple, green and gold I owned and head south with friends from the 504.

However, Oxford seemed too far north to appreciate my tradition, and I spent Fat Tuesday sitting in journalism 571: communications law.

Looking back, I’m thankful. Going to class that day taught me to appreciate where I’m from and the culture I grew up with.

Though I’m not back in Louisiana, I’m about as close as one could get by living in Vicksburg. The parade, carnival and gumbo cook-off Saturday reminded me of that fact.

Once again I was immersed in purple, green and gold, and Vicksburg earned this Louisianian’s stamp of approval.

It’s good to be back where people understand how to laissez les bon temps rouler.

Austin Vining is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at austin.vining@vicksburgpost.com.