Hattiesburg names grand marshal for its annual ‘Parade of Champions’

HHS boys basketball coach named grand marshal of Parade of Champions
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 4:29 PM CDT
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From City of Hattiesburg Communications Department

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Earlier this year, Ernie Watson led the boys basketball team at Hattiesburg High School to its first state championship in nearly 50 years.

In a few days, Watson will be at head of a parade celebrating the accomplishments of the city’s students, grade school to college.

Watson was selected grand marshal for Hattiesburg’s “Parade of Champions” set to roll at 5:30 p.m. Monday in downtown Hattiesburg.

The parade is a city-wide initiative to celebrate all of its local school champions across both athletic and scholastic endeavors.

More than 30 groups and individuals with statewide and conference titles will participate in this year’s parade.

Representatives include title holders from Hattiesburg High, Sacred Heart Catholic School, Presbyterian Christian School, Oak Grove High School, Hattiesburg Forerunners, The University of Southern Mississippi and William Carey University.

“Coach Watson has been an integral part of this community, culminating in Hattiesburg High’s first boys basketball state championship in nearly 50 years,” Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker said. “This season was a pinnacle for his career, and we celebrate his many years of service and mentorship by naming him the Parade of Champions Grand Marshal for 2023.”

This year, Watson led the Hattiesburg High Boys Basketball team to its third state title and, its first since 1974. During the postseason, he was named Coach of the Year by both the Mississippi High School Coaching Association and Pine Belt Sports.

Watson has served as a coach at Hattiesburg High since 2011 An USM alumnus, with a bachelor’s degree in coaching and athletic administration, Watson also holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Louisiana Tech University.

The parade will roll from Sacred Heart High School, take a right onto West Pine Street, take a right onto West Front Street, take a left onto Main Street and end at the Hattiesburg Community Arts Center.

“We hear a great deal of feedback from residents about the need to invest in programming for young people,” Barker said. “The Parade of Champions stands as an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the hard work and achievements of our community’s students, whether in the classroom or on the athletic field.

“Each and every citizen should make it a priority to come out and cheer on these deserving high school and university students because they have represented their families, schools and city to the fullest.”

Residents, friends and families are encouraged to line the street along West Pine, West Front and Main streets.

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