PASS CHRISTIAN -- Mary Springer of Pass Christian said she doesn't care much for parades. She said they are loud and crowded and just "not her thing."
It was pure coincidence that shortly after the St. Paul Carnival Association Mardi Gras parade, commonly known as the Pass Parade, on Feb. 7, that Springer, 73, was hit by a car as she rode her bike to her Second Street home.
"I didn't even go to the parade -- I'm not a parade person," she said. "My brother sells things at the flea market on Menge (Avenue), and he was trying to sell some of it in his yard that day -- he didn't do every well."
Springer said she played dominoes with her brother, then got on her bike and headed home.
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"The last thing my brother said to me was, 'Mary, be careful," she said.
Hit on East Second Street
Springer, who moved to Pass Christian six years ago, is well-known throughout the town.
"She's always riding her bike," said Chipper McDermott, Pass Christian mayor. "She rides it from the east side of town to the west. We see her out there every day.
She said she had been riding without incident until the day of the parade, when she was hit on East Second Street between Lang and Espy.
"I was going east and a car was going west when it got into my lane," Springer said. "I said, 'Oh God,' and after that the lights went out."
The driver did not stop after hitting her, she said, but instead ran into an electric pole.
Pass Christian Police Chief Tim Hendricks said no criminal charges have been filed.
"We still have Ms. Springer's bike, and we are hoping to get it repaired for her," Hendricks said.
Springer was taken to Memorial Hospital at Gulfport where she received six stitches in her head and was treated for a lacerated shoulder and nine fractured ribs.
"My face was all swollen up, and I had a black eye and bandages all over my head," she said.
Springer said while she was at Memorial she learned about the post-parade shooting on Davis Avenue that killed two people and wounded four, as well as the pelican killed after float riders allegedly threw beads at it.
"I heard the guy in the cubicle next to me saying that he was an innocent bystander and he had no idea why he had been shot," she said. "Later, I heard about the poor pelican that was killed."
Beloved in the community
It's been more than two weeks since Springer last rode her bike, and her absence has not gone unnoticed.
She said people have been constantly sending her cards and flowers and bringing food by.
"I've received calls, cards and visits from 65 people," she said. "I can't believe how many people -- even strangers -- have been there for me."
Melanie Walrod, children's librarian at the Pass Christian Library, said Springer should not be surprised at the attention she has been shown since her accident.
"We love Mary," Walrod said. "The community loves Mary. We think she's wonderful."
Walrod said Springer spends countless hours volunteering at the library. She said she helps with several children's activities and she teaches an exercise class for adults.
"She's the heart of the library," she said. "She's quite a character."
McDermott called Springer a "wonderful lady" and said she was especially talented at table tennis.
"She's a helluva Ping Pong player," he said.
Back to cycling
Springer said she has had a longtime love for biking.
"I got my first back when I was in St. Elizabeth's orphanage home on Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans," she said. "I guess I was about 5 or 6. I've been biking for most of life."
When she moved to Pass Christian, Springer said she used her bike to go everywhere from Wal-Mart to the library.
"It's such a great exercise," she said. "Any place I could use my bike I used it."
Although she has improved considerably since the accident, she is still recovering from her injuries.
But she is eager to get back out on the road.
"I have to let my ribs heal for at least another six weeks," she said. "But as soon as I'm able, I will get back on my bike."