OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The streets of Ocean Springs were brimming with beads and the people who came to catch them as the 44th annual Elks Mardi Gras Parade rolled through downtown Saturday.
“Gosh, we are already having a blast. It’s just a good time. Mardi Gras is just what it’s all about,” said rider Marie Gardin.
“Awesome first parade of the year, great way to kick off the Mardi Gras season,” said a member of the Chili Pepper Queens.
“We’ve got buckets of beads; we’re ready,” said Elks National President Michael Luhr.
“We have been riding in this parade for 20 years,” the Chili Pepper Queens added.
“We’ll be handing out some scoops and cups, and we’re also going to be throwing some stuffed animals and beads. good times,” Gardin said.
Riding toward the front of the Elks parade was Little Levi Krystosek.
Before the parade started, members of the Ocean Springs Yacht club surprised him with a cake because Saturday just also happened to be his 13th birthday celebration.
Levi said it was an honor to be selected as this year’s grand marshal and has been giving his bead-throwing arm a lot of practice this week.
“Yesterday, I worked my good throwing arm out, and I will be ready,” he said.
Levi’s mother Donna said that this is the second time Levi has ridden in the Elks parade. The first time was when he was two years old.
The Mississippi Organ Recovery Agency was another noticeable float in the parade. On the float were the families of organ donors and organ recipients.
According to the organization, more than 115,000 people are on the waiting list to receive an organ. The purpose of the float in Saturday’s parade was to raise awareness about the need for people to step up and become donors.
Many of the people in the organization have bonded over their donor stories.
“Her organs were all donated, but we ended up getting to meet the lady who received both of her lungs and who was going to be with us today but ended up not being able to come because of the flu.” said Ellen Duvernay, mother of an organ donor.
According to the agency, 22 people each day are waiting for an organ transplant.
For the full list of parades on routes for the 2019 Mardi Gras season, go to Gulf Coast Weekend’s website.