Biloxi officially rings in 2016 Mardi Gras season - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi officially rings in 2016 Mardi Gras season

A big crowd gathered at Biloxi's Twelfth Night celebration to officially switch from Christmas to the 2016 Carnival season. (Photo source: WLOX) A big crowd gathered at Biloxi's Twelfth Night celebration to officially switch from Christmas to the 2016 Carnival season. (Photo source: WLOX)
South Mississippi is now moving from the Christmas season to Carnival season. Shoppers are already filling their carts with beads, trinkets and decorations for floats and balls.  (Photo source: WLOX) South Mississippi is now moving from the Christmas season to Carnival season. Shoppers are already filling their carts with beads, trinkets and decorations for floats and balls.  (Photo source: WLOX)
The owner of Mardi Gras Supplies in Gulfport says the season is getting off to a slow start, because Fat Tuesday is earlier this year. But this past weekend was busy. (Photo source: WLOX) The owner of Mardi Gras Supplies in Gulfport says the season is getting off to a slow start, because Fat Tuesday is earlier this year. But this past weekend was busy. (Photo source: WLOX)
This year, Fat Tuesday falls on February 9, 2016. (Photo source: WLOX) This year, Fat Tuesday falls on February 9, 2016. (Photo source: WLOX)
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SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) -

The Mardi Gras spirit shined in Biloxi Tuesday. A big crowd gathered at the Twelfth Night celebration to officially switch from Christmas to the 2016 Carnival season. Although Fat Tuesday comes early this year, many people are already getting in the mood for Mardi Gras.

Instead of decking the halls with tinsel, Bill Whatley and Jimmy Bains are getting ready to decorate their floats. They loaded up their carts with garlands and anything Mardi Gras for the upcoming Gautier Men's Club parade.

"We're in a huge mood. This time of year, we're just getting started, but we'll be decorating and partying. We got the float we have to decorate. We have a Mardi Gras ball we're decorating for, so it's just non-stop right now," said Float Co-Chairman Bill Whatley.

Anthony Puckett was also shopping at Mardi Gras Supplies in Gulfport for beads, footballs and other trinkets to toss at a parade in downtown Jackson.

"We've gone to New Orleans to Alabama, but this is actually the cheapest place to get the beads," said Puckett.

The store owner said with Mardi Gras falling on February 9 this year, the season is getting off to a slow start.

"One of the reasons because this Mardi Gras is so early, so close to Christmas and New Year's Day, and people are trying to recoup a little money, get a few paychecks before they start buying," said Manny Peixoto.

For the first time, the store opened its doors on New Year's Day. So far, the hot sellers are swords and beads that light up. Decorations in carnival colors are also popular.

"I have six columns outside my store, so we're going to wrap them up in lights and do the windows," said Shawn Guider, who owns Petit Bois Liquor in Biloxi.

While the men outnumbered the women on the shopping trip, Whatley and Bains may know why.

"We're shopping for women today. Yeah, you got to have the good throws," said Jimmy Bains.

"You don't get the good beads, you don't get a good kiss," said Whatley with a big laugh.

The store owner said so far, on-line sales are on the rise, up 22-percent compared to last year. He expects a big rush two weeks before Fat Tuesday.

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