SURRATT: Time for the good times to roll once again

Published 4:00 am Friday, February 25, 2022

I am looking forward to this weekend.

After a year’s layoff because of COVID-19, the 20th edition of Vicksburg’s Mardi Gras parade hits the street, the 10th Carnaval de Mardi Gras Gumbo Cook-off follows and I can’t be any happier.

Mardi Gras is my favorite time of the year. Some folks like Christmas, some like Easter, others like the Fourth of July or Labor Day, but I’ll take Mardi Gras. Growing up in Louisiana kind of makes it a bit natural. Besides, name me one time out of the year where you can act a fool and no one cares.

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I’ve been to the parades in New Orleans, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the parades in smaller communities that are not so commercial, not so crowded and more family-oriented.

I’ve been to parades in small towns like Addis and Port Allen, La., and the Courir de Mardi Gras in Church Point, La., where inebriated riders take to the rural areas and perform for farmers to collect the ingredients for a community gumbo. In the 10 years I spent on the Coast, I was a regular at the Pascagoula and Biloxi Mardi Gras parades, taking a vacation day every Fat Tuesday to go to Biloxi for “therapy.”

Going to Biloxi was wonderful. My wife worked for an attorney whose former law partner had an office near the parade route, and we were invited each year to park our cars at his office and enjoy some extra comforts while we either recovered or waited for a parade. That, my friends, is the only way to Mardi Gras.

Over the years I’ve been in Vicksburg, I’ve had the chance to watch our parade grow and become a spectacle. The participation has increased, the floats get better every year and so have the throws. I’ve enjoyed watching the people get into the spirit of the event and how the parade has still kept a family-friendly atmosphere.

The Gumbo Cook-off, which began 10 years ago, has grown to become a major event attracting large crowds who gather to sample gumbo, listen to music and enjoy meeting friends. The gumbo is good, and it’s interesting to taste the different spices that make up the roux used for the final product.

Whether it’s seafood, chicken and sausage, “don’t ask,” a combination, or hot or mild, the gumbos prepared by the chefs are a treat and a delicious way to spend an evening.

So come Saturday afternoon, I’ll arrive somewhere on Walnut Street, park my truck and walk to the parade route and find a good spot from which to observe. After the parade, I’ll head to the blocked-off section of Crawford Street by the Southern Cultural Heritage Center and enjoy some products of the chef’s art.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler, cher.

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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