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Today is October 4, 2022

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True to its reputation, Mardi Gras inspires craziness

True to its reputation, Mardi Gras inspires craziness

Tim Sessions is King Rex XXXI. This is the 31st year the Krewe of Phoenix has paraded in Natchez for Mardi Gras. Tim's vehicle is in the background. He has very little trouble out of back seat drivers. Photo: Walt Grayson

    Fat Tuesday (French: Mardi Gras) comes early this year, on Feb. 12. Fat Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday.
    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, which is a time of preparation before Easter, the Resurrection Day of Jesus. The date for all of this varies from year to year because it is all dependent on the date for Easter and the date for Easter varies.
     Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring. Spring starts on March 21 most years, or sometimes on the 22nd, depending on how far away from leap year it is. The farther from leap year, the later spring starts by a few hours. The latest Easter could be is April 25; the earliest is March 22.
     Thence, the date established for Ash Wednesday is 40 days prior to Easter (not counting Sundays) to allow for 40 days of penitence and confession commencing with Ash Wednesday and continuing until Easter.
    Whew!  All I really wanted to say was that Fat Tuesday is early this year. And I say that just to say I have been invited to be the grand marshall of the Krewe of Phoenix Mardi Gras Parade in Natchez. And the parade comes early in February That has meant a busy January for the Krewe because of all the balls and parties associated with Mardi Gras that had to be crammed in and attended.
    What are the duties of the grand marshall? Hopefully nothing but to ride the float and wave and throw beads to the parade crowd. That’s all Miz Jo and I plan on doing, anyway—other than attending some of the Mardi Gras balls the Krewe is throwing. Not all of them by any means.
    One event we managed to attend was the “Call Out Ball,” where the king and queen and royal court and other associated dignitaries, including the grand marshall, are recognized. It was a hoot. People come dressed in formal eveningwear but soon are sporting some outlandish accessories, like glowing glasses or headbands with dancing lights. We had blinking tambourines in the section of Natchez City Auditorium where we were sitting.
    People can act pretty crazy when put in an environment where that sort of stuff is allowed and expected. I wondered if these were normal people putting on a crazy act, or if they really were this outlandish and have to put on a sane act otherwise, like when you meet them on the street or at work or at church. I’ve often wondered the same thing about the people who carry on like that at the Neshoba County Fair.
    This year’s king of the Krewe of Phoenix parade, Tim Sessions of Natchez, is the perfect choice to lead in outlandish-isms. He drives a hearse as “his” car. He told me he wanted one ever since he was hired as a teenager to clean up a hearse between two funerals. He drove it to his house and hurriedly washed it in his driveway.
    His mother was buying groceries at the time and had people coming up to her offering condolences in the grocery store. Tim said before he could get home after delivering the hearse back to the funeral home, people were already showing up with food. He said he just had to have a vehicle that made people do such crazy things.
    And that’s also a part of Mardi Gras, I’ve discovered. To always consider that it’s the other fellow who is the weird one.
Walt Grayson is the host of “Mississippi Roads” on Mississippi Public Broadcasting television, and the author of two “Looking Around Mississippi” books and “Oh! That Reminds Me: More Mississippi Homegrown Stories.” Contact Grayson at walt@waltgrayson.com.

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