Get out and enjoy Mardi Gras

Published 7:48 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2019

We are coming into one of my favorite seasons — Mardi Gras, the time of parades, costumes, king cake and getting the opportunity to legitimately act like a fool.

Growing up in Louisiana, Mardi Gras was a special time of the year. For one thing, we got a couple of days off from school, which led to many high school and college students scampering off to the Crescent City, or New Roads or Lafayette for parades, only to come back dragging into class on Ash Wednesday.

For me, the Mardi Gras holidays meant a family trip to New Orleans on Sunday and “camping out” on Canal Street to catch the parades, and I can say without fear of contradiction that I watched the first Bacchus parade with Bob Hope reigning as Bacchus. It was an interesting experience.

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When my wife and I were dating, I would go with her family to spend Mardi Gras Day on St. Charles Street. Marcia had an aunt who worked for the state of Louisiana, and under a special arrangement, the department she worked for was allowed to use its New Orleans office — on St. Charles Street — as a staging area for employees and their families wanting to go watch the parades. That’s when I learned the value of quick and unrestricted access to a restroom during Mardi Gras.

My last venture to New Orleans for Mardi Gras was 1974, the year we married, and with work and other necessary activities, it was hard to make it to the annual parades in the Crescent City. But it didn’t end my interest in Mardi Gras. Baton Rouge began having parades, and since we didn’t have children at the time, Marcia and I could get out and do a few things, like going to Les Courir de Mardi Gras in Church Point, Louisiana.

The event involves men dressing up and riding through the countryside — thoroughly inebriated — and performing to collect ingredients for a community gumbo. It was a sight to behold, and one of the best times I’ve ever had, even though it was cloudy and cold with a wind chill in the 30s.

Since Church Point, I’ve enjoyed the small town Mardi Gras celebrations more than I ever enjoyed going to New Orleans. There’s something about the atmosphere that makes these events much more appealing. Living on the Coast, I always enjoyed the parades in Pascagoula and Biloxi. Pascagoula came the Saturday before Mardi Gras, and I always took a vacation day for the Biloxi parade on Mardi Gras Day. That, I would tell my editor, was stress relief.

I’ve been living in Vicksburg almost eight years now, and I’ve covered the Vicksburg parade for seven years. I’ve enjoyed it; it has a family-type atmosphere, and the lagniappe of the gumbo cook off after the parade.

The parade and the cook off this year is March 2, and if you’ve never seen either, you need to get out and enjoy them.

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

John Surratt is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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