In February 1963, folks in Lucedale are believed to have experienced their last Mardi Gras celebration. That is, until 2018. In 2017, a group of Lucedale residents decided the town needed to celebrate once again.
King Gregory and Queen Sarah will preside over The Lucedale Carnival Association’s inaugural parade Jan. 20 in downtown Lucedale, starting at 11 a.m.
“And at 9 a.m. that day, we’ll have a ribbon-cutting and cutting of the king cake to start it all off,” said Tim Grave, Lucedale Carnival Association president. “After the parade, there’ll be a Family Fun Day. They’re blocking off Oak Street behind the parade route. Seven local groups are going to perform. There’ll be food vendors, a couple of bounce houses, games, face-painting and a photo booth where you can be royalty for a day.”
Later, a Mardi Gras dance will be held featuring a Biloxi band, he said.
Royalty’s names come from Gregory Luce, the founder of Lucedale, and his wife, Sarah. Luce operated a lumber industry there, and the town was founded in 1901.
“I did a lot of research. We took a lot of time to research this, and what we found was that there hasn’t been a Mardi Gras parade in Lucedale since way back then,” he said.
He emphasized that Lucedale’s celebration is intended to be family friendly and inclusive.
“Obviously, we’re different from Mobile. We’re a lot smaller, but we just want everyone to know that this will be for families to enjoy. We also wanted everyone to feel important and be part of it. We want it to be inclusive, and for everyone to know they can join. You don’t have to live in George County, either,” he said.
Currently, 40 floats are scheduled to participate, representing families and local businesses.
“Our only requirement is that you must wear a mask if you’re riding,” Grave said.
He said association members are looking into having “all the bells and whistles in place,” including a ball, for the 2019 Carnival season.
For more information about the Lucedale Carnival Association, visit the group’s Facebook page at facebook.com/LucedaleCarnivalAssociation/ .