OCEAN SPRINGS -- Although the Saturday-afternoon temperature hovered about 45, the cooler weather didn't stop Mardi Gras enthusiasts from lining downtown streets. Clear skies and the natural canopies created by large oak trees provided a near-perfect backdrop for the parades.
Spectators were treated to a special two-for-one viewing as the Ocean Springs Elks Lodge parade started at 1 p.m. and the Krewe Unique parade followed it at 1:30.
At Jackson and Porter
Although the great American painter Norman Rockwell never painted a Mardi Gras scene, the artist, who was well-known for capturing scenes of small town Americana, would have not have had to look far for influence Saturday.
The oaks shaded the streets with patches of bright sunlight scattered intermittently as people packed the yards of churches, shops and a funeral home, waiting ever so patiently for their chance to grab some beads.
Before the parades began, children tossed footballs and blew bubbles while men and women in Ole Miss and MSU sweatshirts sipped bourbon from red cups around the intersection of the avenues of Porter and Jackson, fostering an atmosphere reminiscent of The Grove on the campus of Ole Miss during a home football game.
Vicki Evans of Gautier was serving king cake slices to her family from one of the cottages on Porter shortly before the parade started. She said she started attending the Ocean Springs parades a couple of years ago.
"This parade is awesome," she said. "We love coming here. We look forward to it every year. I like the fun atmosphere and seeing everyone having a good time and catching the beads."
'Mardi Gras on the Coast'
Kassi Kelley and her daughter, Kaitlin, moved to Ocean Springs from Indiana about 18 months ago. She said they attended their first Mardi Gras parades and events last year.
"When we moved here, we didn't know anything about Mardi Gras except that it was held in New Orleans. We were surprised to find there was Mardi Gras in th South on the Coast."
Kelley said the family has since grown to like to the local parades and Mardi Gras traditions.
"We really like the day parades, she said.
Kaitlin said she, too, had grown fond of the Ocean Springs parades. She was hoping to collect some loot during Saturday's processions.
"I'm hoping to catch a lot of stuff," she said. "I hope to catch lots of things like stuffed animals and some masks."
Saturday marked the first time Mary Dixon of Gautier attended the Ocean Springs day parade.
"We got out here about two hours before the parade to get a good spot," she said. "I'm really excited about this parade."
Dixon said she heard lot of positive things about the parade from her family.
"My mother-in-law and my husband have been here before," she said. "They said it was a great parade and I took their advice and decided to come this year. I hope I catch a lot of beads."
This was the 41st year for the Ocean Springs Elks Lodge. Organizer Phil Quigley said he was happy with the parade's attendance.
"Heck, we had a lot of people show up," he said. "Once the sun came out, people turned out in droves."
The theme for the parade, which had 75 units, was "Classic Comedy Palooza."
The grand marshal was Joe Cacibauda. The king and queen were Louis Necaise and Lona Lee.
Greg Gibson, an organizer of the Krewe Unique parade, said he was happy with this year's turnout.
"This was our second year to hold the parade," he said. "We had 23 entries this year and we are excited about that."
The theme was "A Trip to Brazil." Ty Hand and Tasha Betts were king and queen. Rip Daniels and Jeremy Anderson were the grand marshals.