Dianne Boren staked out her spot Saturday on the corner of Market Street and Ingalls Avenue about four hours before the start of the Jackson County Carnival Association parade.
She said it was important to have the perfect spot because the parade was a homecoming of sorts.
“I grew up in Pascagoula, but I’ve been living in Meridian for more than 20 years,” she said. “I miss going to the Mardi Gras parades in Pascagoula — this is home.”
She sat in a collapsible chair with her mother, Estelle Poole of Lucedale, by her side.
“Mama is 87 and she doesn’t get out much, but she wanted to come to the parade today,” Boren said.
Boren and her family were soaking up the sun and taking advantage of the sights and sounds of the parade — the sounds of Luke Bryan blaring out of a PA system across the street from their spot as some people danced in pickup beds and others cooked ribs and chicken on large portable grills in nearby parking lots.
She said she didn’t hesitate to make the three-hour drive down from Meridian.
“I wanted to be with my family at a clean, family-oriented parade,” she said. “People always mention the New Orleans parades, but I tell them to forget New Orleans. Pascagoula Mardi Gras is the place to be.”
The family-friendly reputation of Saturday’s parade was also attractive to the Johnson family of Mobile, who were attending for the first time.
“We’re vacationing in Biloxi for a few days and we decided to hit the parade on the drive down,” Ashley Johnson said. “We’re going to stay in Biloxi and take our daughter to Margaritaville (Resort).”
Johnson said her family has attended the parades in Mobile and wanted to try something different this year.
“The parades in Mobile have gotten so big that we wanted to do something that was more family-oriented,” she said. “We just want our daughter, Chloe, to catch a lot of beads and have fun in a family environment.”