GUIZERIX: A celebration of Mardi Gras in Vicksburg

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Growing up near Mobile and frequenting New Orleans, it should come as no surprise that when I was little, I didn’t dream of being a princess; I wanted to be the Mardi Gras Queen.

I remember going to the Mobile Mardi Gras Museum as a child and spending hours poring over each detail of past kings’ and queens’ regalia, from the hand-beaded “Princess and the Frog” cape to the gemstones delicately placed on each scepter. And we can’t forget the tiaras and gowns, glistening in the sunshine.

Although it’s controversial, both for posterity and nostalgia’s sake I do believe Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras. However, my experience would lend itself to the notion that New Orleans undoubtedly does it better.

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In college and for years after, my friends and I would do everything we could to get down to New Orleans on the weekend before Fat Tuesday to revel in the streets with the best of them. I distinctly remember nights spent in cramped hotel rooms that were paid for thanks to us scrimping and saving, and that first sweet sip of a Tropical Isle Hand Grenade the year I finally turned 21.

The parades are another matter entirely, with Krewes and their signature throws. Tucks is known for its plungers, Muses for its decorated shoes and Zulu for its coconuts.

Then there’s the grandpappy of them all: Endymion. Where Mobile’s Krewes are stuffy, formal organizations (save for the Comic Cowboys), Endymion is the largest, most electrifying and outrageous Krewe there is. Thanks to a family connection, I had the opportunity to accompany my husband to the Endymion Extravaganza one year. Held in the Superdome, I will say nothing compares to standing in a chair for two hours in a formal gown while being pelted with throws. It was like Disney World on steroids — sensory overload in a myriad of ways.

Given my established love for all things Mardi Gras, I’d long decided that, if possible, in my adult life I’d never live in a place that, for one, wasn’t driving distance to New Orleans, and two, didn’t celebrate Mardi Gras.

Vicksburg, my adopted hometown, thankfully foots the bill on both of those.

With Fostoria Yardi Gras coming up next weekend and the Jester Ball, Gumbo Cookoff and Mardi Gras parade to follow, there is no shortage of merriment to be made in the River City between now and Fat Tuesday.

What’s more is, these events are family friendly. I love that my husband, whose family emigrated from France to New Orleans in the late 1800s, and I get to share our love for the Carnival season and that heritage with our daughter in a safe place.

I also love that others in our community seem to be as eager to don purple, green and gold as I am (which is saying something).

Mardi Gras falls on Feb. 21 this year, meaning we only have a month left to get all the fun out of our systems before the inward reflection and outward sacrifice of the Lenten season (and the crawfish, but I’ll save that for another column).

And one day, maybe, I’ll live out my dream of reigning over Mardi Gras. But until then, I’ll keep letting the good times roll.