In its seventh year, the parade is set for 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, and will include a number of floats, walking groups and plenty of beads and other trinkets. Area residents are ready for a parade after last year’s event was cancelled due to the forecast for inclement weather.
“A highlight of this year’s parade will be in the addition of the Honey Island Clydesdale horses,” said Melissa Saucier, parade director.
This year’s parade will lead off with the University of Southern Mississippi cheerleaders riding a Hattiesburg fire truck.
The parade is presented by Keith’s Superstores with sponsor partners Magnolia Graphics and Signature Magazine.
“We are honored to have the ARC Freedom Riders in this year’s parade,” Saucier said. “The Freedom Riders are special needs children and adults who are pushed in jogging wheelchairs from start to finish.”
According to Saucier, participants in this year’s parade range from hospitals and clinics, law offices, contractors, banks, restaurants and just about every local business in the area.
Floats will also be coming from New Orleans and north Mississippi to participate in the parade.
Saucier anticipates more participation and support than ever for the 2019 parade.
“Mayor (Toby) Barker and Police Chief (Anthony) Parker and all city departments are excited and very welcoming to the upcoming parade,” she said.
“We encourage parade-goers to come early, hungry and ready to catch some really good stuff. Throws include beads, trinkets, stuffed animals, cups, cookies, snacks and much more.”
Saucier said float participants college throws year-round to have ample throws to last the duration of the parade.
The parade will follow its usual route along the perimeter of the University of Southern Mississippi campus. The parade will line up along the Hwy. 49 North Service Road and running alongside Hwy 49 south from Fourth Street up to Boot Country, proceeding along the service road south to Hardy Street, right on Hardy proceeding west to 38th Ave and ending at Morningside Drive.
There will be portable restrooms along the parade route as well as handicapped restrooms located in the parking lot at First Bank.
Other events for the day include the Children’s Center for Communication and Development’s annual Children’s Classic, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m. The USM women’s basketball team has a game at 4 p.m.
There is no deadline to enter the parade, according to Saucier. “You may enter into the lineup with all required materials – entry form, fee, DL and insurance.” Line up opens at 6 a.m. and will be on a first-come first-served lineup order.