Mississippi's first couple led the Gulf Coast Carnival Association's parade through the streets of Biloxi Tuesday. Governor Haley Barbour and his wife Marsha served as co-grand marshals.
Just before the parade, the First Lady ducked into a satellite truck to put on her Mardi Gras outfit. The governor wrapped up a network interview, then put on a carnival T-shirt. Moments later it was time to "let the good times roll."
Governor Haley and Marsha Barbour were in a Mardi Gras mood Tuesday. Screaming at the governor was not only okay in this case, it was expected.
"Here you go," the Governor yelled, while tossing a string of big beads.
Like the Gulf Coast crowd, the first couple took a much deserved break from the serious side of ongoing hurricane recovery. The Mardi Gras spirit reflects the spirit of a people determined to reclaim the coast.
"People are back up on their feet. They know the coast is going to be back bigger and better than ever. And today's a happy time to celebrate what's happened here in the last six months," the governor said.
Mississippi's First Lady has looked forward to the celebration. Marsha Barbour was on the coast before, during and immediately after the storm. She considered it an honor to help lead the parade.
"What better way to help them celebrate and feel like things are getting back to normal or have the chance to get back to normal," she said.
Fat Tuesday normally means screaming crowds and tons of beads. The crowd caught the throws and tossed the governor some praise for his leadership.
"Good job buddy," yelled one man on the parade route.
"Thank you very much," Governor Barbour replied.
The co-grand marshals paused for the traditional toast at City Hall. Mayor Holloway welcomed the honored guests, who had a message for a certain storm.
"Katrina could knock us down, but she couldn't keep us down. And what a great day to thumb our nose at Katrina," said the governor, while raising his champagne glass.
That non-partisan message got an affirmative from an appreciative crowd, as did a parting message from the governor.
"Biloxi, the Gulf Coast and Mississippi are going to be back, bigger and better than ever before."
First Lady Marsha Barbour was especially excited about leading the parade. Tuesday was her first Mardi Gras experience.