Relishing the opportunity to play tourist in Vicksburg
Published 3:02 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020
Last Saturday, for a brief time between talking to people, chronicling the events of the day and kicking back in my recliner at home later in the evening, I got to play tourist.
It felt good.
Being a South Louisiana boy, Mardi Gras, as I’ve written before, is a special time for me, and being able to get involved in the anticipation of Saturday’s Mardi Gras parade was a treat I enjoyed. It was good to see a large number of people gathered in one area and behaving civilly toward one another.
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I can’t speak for other areas along the parade route, but in the area I picked to watch the parade, people were friendly; there were no arguments over throws, and many adults who caught beads gave them to children either standing by their parents or perched on a parent’s shoulders.
The krewe members on the floats were, from what I could see, rather generous with their throws, and were on target when it came to tossing something at a particular individual. If I had one complaint, being a Moon Pie junkie, I would like to have seen more Moon Pies tossed from the floats in my direction.
The spirit of Carnival continued with the gumbo cook-off at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center, where a mass of humans gathered on Crawford Street to sample and enjoy various gumbo recipes. The crowd was the largest I’d seen since I’ve been covering the cook-off (and that’s been just about every year it’s been held), and it led to a problem — I wasn’t able to get to all the booths and sample the products.
To make matters worse, the cooks and helpers involved with the city vs. county gumbo cook-off kept asking me for an opinion on which was best, forcing me to play the diplomat, sit on the fence and try to make each side feel they had the best recipe.
That’s one of the problems of being in the news business; the people you cover tend to seek out your opinion, and you’ve got to be careful you don’t ruffle feathers. Instead, you hide your opinion and try to be the nice, polite kid your mother always wanted you to be and you play it safe. As for the gumbo, actually, both tasted good and I didn’t have a coin to flip to make a choice.
Now here I sit on Mardi Gras Day hammering out my column with Professor Longhair’s “Go to the Mardi Gras” and “Second Line” playing in my head and visions of the Rex parade on St. Charles Street in New Orleans, the parades in Pascagoula and Biloxi and Les Courir de Mardi Gras charging on horseback to a farmer’s home to seek ingredients for a community gumbo flashing before me.
And I look back on Saturday’s events and remember that for a little while I was able to let go and enjoy a great community event that brought back memories and made new ones, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
John Surratt is a staff writer for The Vicksburg Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.