Hattiesburg prepares for first Mardi Gras parade

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The first annual Caerus Mardi Gras Parade on Thursday is gearing up.

"For it to be a success, we expected 30 floats this year, we have many more than 30," said Parade Organizer Nancy Davis.

Forty-three participants are registered; that includes all of the dance groups, bands, politicians, cars, trucks and floats will all be taking part. Organizers and city officials estimate the parade to last approximately 2.5 hours.

Caerus (pronounced Ky-rus) means "spirit of opportunity,"which is the message Keith Superstores and the other local businesses supporting the event want to send through the event.

Davis said the parade is expected to draw a crowd numbered between five and seven thousand.

Some of the floats are corporate ones that show regularly on the Mardi Gras parade circuit through the Southeast, and the Hub City may now be one of the first stops.

"A lot of people spend big money on these floats and they want them use in all the parades," said Davis.

Others are floats entered by local families like the Sims, and they will give the parade a trademark Hattiesburg seal.

"I think we were maybe the first people to call and say we want to be in the parade," said Lee Sims, who entered a big purple float painted with the word "Grooveline".

Keith Superstores, a key parade organizer has had staff working on their float for more than two weeks.

"It seemed like every time we looked at it we could add something else to it," said Bob Greenwood, a store supervisor who helped build the New Orleans-themed float on a 40-foot trailer.

Evem after the float is done, the work is not over: who will ride on it?

"We keep on adding and adding to it, everybody wants to jump on and have a party so I think we'll have at least 25 on our float, at least," said Russ Hendley, a Division Manager at Coca-Cola in Hattiesburg.

Click here to see the parade route: http://hattiesburg.wdam.com/news/events/47797-caerus-mardi-gras-parade-map

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