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Mardi Gras Parades to be held on the Coast

Friday, Feb. 20

Ocean Springs Ocean Springs Carnival Association presents the city's first night parade set to roll at 7 p.m. The route starts at the intersection of Ward Avenue and Government Street, east on Government to Magnolia Avenue, south to Porter Street, west on Washington Avenue, north to Government Street and east to Ward, where it will disband.

Saturday, Feb. 21

Pascagoula The Jackson County Carnvial Association parade will roll at 1 p.m. in downtown Pascagoula. The parade route has changed for 2009. The staging area will be along Canty Street and Ingalls Avenue. It will start on Ingalls Avenue at Pascagoula Street, go east along Ingalls Avenue, north onto the southbound lane of Market Street, west on Jackson Avenue, south on Pascagoula Street and disband at Ingalls Avenue.

Biloxi Children's Walking Parade will roll at 1 p.m.

Pass Christian Pass Christian Carnival Association's Krewe of Legacy parade will roll at 1 p.m.

Gulfport Krewe of Gemini will roll at 2 p.m.

Moss Point Krewe of River City, hosted by the Krewe of Essence, will roll at 3:30 p.m. It will feature Moss Point youth and civic organizations following the theme of "Mask Extravanganza." The parade will start at Southgate Shopping Center at Main Street and Jefferson Avenue and go north along Main Street to the Riverfront Center to disband. Call 228-219-4896, 228-475-7887 for details.

Sunday, Feb. 22

Pass Christian St. Paul Carnival Association parade to roll at noon.

St. Martin-D'Iberville North Bay Area Association parade to roll at 1:30 p.m. The parade starts on LeMoyne Boulevard near McCain Road, goes west into Harrison County, south on Central Avenue and west on Rodriguez Street and north on Automall Parkway to disband. Call 228-396-1869 for details.

Tuesday, Feb. 24

Biloxi Gulf Coast Carnival Association and Krewe of Neptune Mardi Gras parade will roll at 1 p.m. The parade goes south on Main Street, west on U.S. 90, north on Lameuse Street, west on Martin Luther King Boulevard, south on Reynoir Street, west on U.S. 90, north on Porter Avenue and east on Howard Avenue to disband near Caillavet Street. Call 228-435-6296 or 228-432-8806 for details.

Bay St. Louis Krewe of Diamonds to roll at 1 p.m.

Gulfport Krewe of Gemini to roll at 5:30 p.m.

Laurel Express takes over Main Street Festival

By Eloria Newell James,

— After 13 years, the City of Laurel is passing the reins of sponsorship of the Main Street Festival to Laurel Express.

Jacqueline Lee, director of Laurel Express, said the local Main Street Program will be coordinating the festival, which is held annually in Laurel’s historic downtown.
In March 2008, the City of Laurel officially became designated as a Mississippi Main Street community.

“The City of Laurel has sponsored the Main Street Festival for 13 years and now has given the reins to the Laurel Express, a Mississippi Main Street Project,” said Wanda Benson with the city’s Public Relations Office. “ Laurel Express is a non-profit organization created to promote downtown as the center of social and economic activity.”

While the festival provides its usual food, fun and entertainment, this year, some new items were added for the event. The new additions included the Pooches on Parade, Laurel’s Got Talent Contest, the inflatable and a Panorama Parade.

Officials said all entities are excited about the change. “We had discussed taking over the festival for 2008. Because we didn’t get really set up as a Main Street group until April, it was too late to take over last year’s festival,” Lee said. “The festival will still be city supported, but we will just be handling the event.”

Benson said the City of Laurel “will give 100 percent support to Laurel Express during this transitional period.”

Benson said the transfer is occurring at a time when things are developing downtown.

“Downtown Laurel is an exciting place where things are happening,” Benson said. “New businesses and residents are beginning to infiltrate down town with more visitors and residents shopping and dining.”

Officials said plans for the 2009 Main Street Festival are being discussed. The time and date for the event has been set for Oct. 3 from 9:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Lee said efforts are also being made to add to the event. “We are still in the development stages,” she said. “We hope to bring in entertainment that will reach a broad audience.”
Lee said efforts are also being made to seek new vendors for the festival.

“We are also going to try to work closely with our downtown merchants to make sure their needs are being met through the festival,” Lee said. “We want people to come downtown for the festival and entertain them enough that they stay in Laurel. ... We are trying to help keep the dollars locally.”

Anyone needing more information about the festival can contact Lee at (601) 433-3255.

Downtown Investments pay off for Vicksburg


Photo: Harry Sharp, Vicksburg Main Street Board President

Downtown investments paying off, Main Street told

About $3.45 million was invested in downtown Vicksburg in 2008, resulting in a new increase of 17 jobs and an increase to about 100 apartments available for rent.

The numbers were presented by Vicksburg Main Street Program Chairman Harry Sharp at the trade organization’s annual meeting Tuesday.

“It was a very good year for us, and there should be a lot of exciting things happening this year,” Sharp said. “Hopefully downtown will continue to grow as you have seen happen over the past few years.”

Support for Main Street comes from an additional city tax levied on properties in the downtown area and spent, in turn, on promotions and commons areas. For 2008, Sharp said $2.28 million came from public entities, primarily the City of Vicksburg, while $1.17 million was infused by private investors.

A total of five buildings were renovated last year, while five new businesses opened. Four businesses closed, resulting in a net gain of one downtown merchant.

Sharp said the Main Street Program is meeting a goal set two years ago to bring more people downtown by promoting the development of upstairs apartments in downtown buildings.

“There were maybe at that time one or two (apartments downtown), now there are 102,” Sharp said.

Sharp said goals for the coming year include creating a new downtown retail promotion in December, as well as developing a stronger alliance with the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau and Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce. Sharp said the program also hopes to participate in nine Mississippi Main Street Program promotions and partner with Main Street Program directors outside of Vicksburg to develop regional events.

One of the biggest goals, Sharp said, is to expand the Main Street district to Interstate 20 along Washington and Clay streets, which he said would greatly enhance the Main Street Program with no additional tax burden on residents.

Also Tuesday, Sharp recognized former Main Street Director Rosalie Theobald, who resigned in 2008, for her decade of service. Kim Hopkins has since been selected by the Main Street board of directors to head the program.

Vicksburg Main Street was the first Main Street Program established in the state.

Contact Steve Sanoski at

Governor to speak at Vicksburg Main Street Meeting


Gov. Haley Barbour will be the keynote speaker at the Vicksburg Main Street Program's annual meeting Wednesday night at the B.B. Club.
By Steve Sanoski

“We have had some very prominent speakers in the past, but this is by far our most prominent,” said Harry Sharp, Main Street Program Board of Directors chairman. “Gov. Barbour is nationally renowned as a phenomenal leader, and I think it’s just fantastic that he’s agreed to take some time out of his busy schedule to speak at our annual meeting.”

Sharp and Barbour attended the University of Mississippi together in the late 1960s and, along with a handful of others, formed the first ever Young Republicans Club at any university in the state, Sharp said.

The Vicksburg Main Street Program is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year and has about 200 members. Three of the program’s founders — Nancy Bell, Ronnie Bounds and Jerry Hall — serve on its board of directors. Kim Hopkins is the program’s director, having been installed in January after serving in an interim position since October. Health issues were cited when 10-year director Rosalie Theobald stepped down last year.

Sharp said the annual meeting will give members a recap of the program’s developments over the past year and provide a glimpse into its short- and long-term goals. He said he has left the topic of Barbour’s address up to the governor, who is expected to speak around 6:15.

“In the coming year, we are really going to focus on two things: we’re going to try to expand the Main Street district to I-20 on Washington and Clay streets, and we also want to work toward making Vicksburg more business-friendly,” said Sharp.

Businesses in the Vicksburg Main Street Program Taxing District support the program by paying an additional 5.05 mills in property tax. Sharp said expanding the district would not affect residents’ taxes and would allow for further development of small businesses in the city.

If you go:
The B.B. Club, 721 Clay St., will host the Vicksburg Main Street Program’s annual meeting Wednesday with keynote speaker Gov. Haley Barbour. Social hour, with a cash bar, begins at 5:30 p.m. Barbour’s address, dinner and the meeting begin at 6. Cost is $10, seating is limited and reservations can be made by calling Kim Hopkins at 601-634-4527. The meeting is open to all Main Street members, but nonmembers can join by paying a minimum membership fee of $25.

Contact Steve Sanoski at

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