Families prepare for south Mississippi's Mardi Gras madness

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The 101st reign of King D'Iberville and Queen Ixolib is about to begin. The Gulf Coast Carnival Association's coronation ball is Monday night. At that time, Rick Carter and Dewey Elise Brashier will be crowned king and queen of carnival.

Once the formal ceremony is over, south Mississippi will let the good times roll.

Biloxi has just one Fat Tuesday parade this year. It rolls at 1:00, and promises to provide family fun for everyone.

The family aspect of Mardi Gras is what makes it so special for Sharon Beasley. On the day before Fat Tuesday, Beasley was on the parade route, setting up for a big party.

"I've been decorating the Boomtown Welcome Center for 15 years for Mardi Gras," she explained.

Beasley's decorations for Biloxi's 2009 Mardi Gras parade included colorful bunting, and plenty of tables and chairs.

"I just love to see the little kids having a good time, families having a time together," she said.

Beasley has passed on her passion for Mardi Gras to the rest of her family. For instance, her daughter Teresa Stephens spent the day before Carnival in the city of Biloxi float den. She was standing at the top of the Yates Construction float. From that perch, Stephens choreographed which beads got hung downstairs, and which ones went upstairs.

"It takes a lot of time, a lot of dedication, and a lot of people," Stephens said.

One of the people assisting Stephens was Donia Ouzts.

"Find a nail to put them on," Ouzts said, getting another to help her with bead hanging.

Her job on this Lundi Gras was to make sure the Fat Tuesday float riders had easy access to all of the beads the Yates group would toss to parade goers.

"I'm from Florida. We don't do this sort of stuff in Florida," Ouzts said. "I think it's great. I do. I'm excited."

So was the 7-year-old standing next to her. Chase Nadolski gets to ride on the Yates float. What's Chase most excited about heading into the big parade?

"Seeing my babysitter," he said.

None of the other people in the float den on Monday were riding in the Gulf Coast Carnival Association parade on Tuesday. They'll be on the ground, watching their hard work pay dividends for everybody.

"My mom and my kids will be at the office with me on Tuesday, so it works," Stephens said.

Mom can't wait, because after a day of coordinating and decorating, Sharon Beasley gets Fat Tuesday off as well. So don't look for her at the Boomtown Welcome Center.

"No," she said. "Going to spend time with my grandsons catching beads."

Those beads will come from the 102 floats and bands that have signed up to roll in the Biloxi parade. By the way, the theme of the Gulf Coast Carnival Association parade is "Islands Around The World."

There will be one noticeable change at the GCCA parade. You'll actually be able to hear everything King D'Iberville says while he rides around Biloxi. To shake things up just a bit, Rick Carter agreed to wear a wireless microphone along the parade route. So, don't be surprised if King D'Iberville tries talking to you as he stands next to his throne and tosses beads into the crowd.

"Only Rick Carter," laughed Hank Rogers.

On Monday, Rogers was hooking the wireless equipment on the king's float.

"Rick's a people person. He wants to reach out and be heard. He wants to participate. He wants people to participate with him. So, that's what we're going to do."