WAVELAND -- Like colorful baby birds with their mouths open, hundreds of parade-goers begged and coaxed beads and doubloons from elaborate Krewe of Nereids floats along U.S. 90 midday Sunday.
Nereids rolled at around 1:30 p.m., and the crowd along the first half of the route was families in every form and fashion -- cooking, dancing, throwing footballs on the median and in the unused lanes of U.S. 90. The weather was great. The mood was even better.
Karen Norris, 40, and her mother Caroline Warden, 74, of Waveland staked out a spot on the median at 9 a.m. and brought their crochet and embroidery to keep them busy until parade time. They've been doing that for years.
One said the best part of the parade is watching the kids have fun. The other said the best part is going home after a long day of fun.
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One policeman called the beginning of the parade the easy half. There have been years when things got rowdy on the other end. But an hour into the parade Sunday, the only call for medics was a seizure at a business on the route.
Nereids one of the oldest and largest Mardi Gras parades on the Coast.
Peter Yanez, who brought his granddaughter Taylor, 3, said he considers the parade safer and more kid-friendly than others.
"You never know what they'll throw at the Pass parade," he said.
In Waveland, kids caught beads, lapel pins, tomahawks, balls and stuffed bananas while on makeshift bleachers on a flat-bed, viewing boxes at the top of ladders, in the bed of a jacked-up pickup and on shoulders of dads all up and down the route.
The Broadway-themed float riders had flashy costumes, and Waffle House unit threw wooden discs that were coupons for a free waffle.
Penelope Kentish and Ian Hunt of Australia -- nine months into a 4-year tour of the world -- stopped in for the parade on their way to New Orleans. They had met a couple from Waveland at an RV park and heard about Nereids. They were struck by the small-town atmosphere and all the effort put into the rolling party.
"Everyone goes to so much trouble, don't they," Kentish said, pointing at a float carrying royalty in all its splendor. Within minutes Kentish had beads around her neck and a collection of flowers from the Ole Biloxi Marching Club that danced in gold shoes and tails.
"And I'll take it all to New Orleans, won't I," she said.