Mississippians Enjoy Thanksgiving In Different Ways


From the northern hills to the Gulf Coast, Mississippi families are topping their Thanksgiving turkey with a big serving of college football.

While some are traveling long distances by plane, train, bus or car, others are sticking close to home.

Nicole Tims of Oxford said a large group of local relatives will gather at her grandmother's house for football, board games and homemade sweet potato pie. They'll tune into the gridiron showdown between the University of Mississippi and Mississippi State.

``Hopefully, Ole Miss will win,'' said Tims, 19, a Northwest Community College student.

Down on the coast, Faith Rhodes of Gulfport is traveling to nearby Pearlington for a family gathering that will also include Egg Bowl viewing. She's pulling for Mississippi State, but she has a cousin who attended Ole Miss law school. The family keeps the in-house rivalry in perspective. ``We have fun with it,'' said Rhodes, 20, assistant manager of a fitness center.

In Jackson Wednesday, Gov. Ronnie Musgrove, his 13-year-old daughter Carmen Rae and members of his staff got an early start on Thanksgiving by serving hot lunches to the poor and homeless at Stewpot Community Services. Musgrove spooned out mashed potatoes. Carmen Rae topped them with gravy and added scoops of green beans. Others added fried chicken and fruit salad. The governor said he wanted to share some of the blessings he has received. ``We love you. We care for you. And we're glad to be here,'' Musgrove told more than 100 diners.

Lavone Sharp, who's been eating at Stewpot for four years, hugged the governor and Carmen Rae. ``It's beautiful that they're here,'' said Sharp, 64. ``The Stewpot has saved my life. It's been very instrumental to me in meeting people and learning how to get along with people.''

The Greyhound bus station in Jackson was packed at midday with people traveling within Mississippi and to points beyond. Luley Mae Williams started her day at home in Liberty, in the southwestern corner of the state. She changed buses in Jackson for her trip to the Delta town of Indianola, where she'll spend Thanksgiving with friends. Flying wasn't an option for her since she's going from one rural community to another, but Williams said she wouldn't have flown even if she were going farther. She's been skeptical of air travel since the Sept. 11 attacks on America. ``All the security we've got, and we still have people getting on airplanes with things they're not supposed to have,'' Williams, 51, said with a shake of her head. ``Not for me. I like the bus. It's slow and easy.''

Highways were busy and gas stations did brisk business on Wednesday. The state Department of Public Safety is stepping up patrols over the long holiday weekend, which started at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continues through midnight Sunday.

The department received a $21,500 federal grant to put 108 extra troopers on the roads. Seven deaths occurred on Mississippi highways last Thanksgiving. ``We are using high-profile, low-tolerance efforts through the end of this year to help save lives,'' said DPS spokesman Warren Strain.