Neil Palmer cuts a green ribbon for a bow weeks ago as part of Mardi Gras decorations he helped hang throughout downtown Aberdeen. The town will celebrate the season with a parade Saturday afternoon and a gala that night.

ABERDEEN – A little bit of New Orleans culture will come through in a big way Feb. 8 as a Mardi Gras parade and ball will benefit the Friends of the Aberdeen Animal Shelter.

“We’ve got almost 100 parade entries if everyone shows, and 215 tickets have been sold for the ball,” Neil Palmer said Friday. “It’ll be a traditional full-blown Mardi Gras, and people will throw stuff like cups and beads. We’ve got two dance groups, two bands, two motorcycle groups, horse groups and antique cars. We possibly have a float coming from Bay St. Louis.”

He is helping organize the festivities and has spent time the past few weeks decorating parts of downtown in the purple, gold and green colors of the Mardi Gras season. The decorations will remain up through Feb. 25, which is Fat Tuesday.

The name of the parade is the Mystic Krewe of Fotaas, which is short for Friends of the Aberdeen Animal Shelter. Those associated with it hope to expand it into a permanent krewe, or social organization that puts on such events, to manage future Mardi Gras celebrations in town.

“The aldermen have been as supportive as they can be about this,” Palmer said. “Anyone who wants to donate food items for the ball, it’s tax deductible. We’ll still have plenty of food at the ball.”

The parade begins at 2 p.m., and lineup begins near the First Baptist Church at 12:30 p.m.

“It’ll go to the intersection of Meridian and Commerce, where the groups will stop and perform. They’ll keep going and turn left on Maple Street, where they’ll perform again. From there, it’ll go back to Meridian, and there will be music and food at Artisans Marketplace,” Palmer said.

The parade, which Palmer said will feature businesses, families and civic groups, will continue from there to Stevens Auction Company. Purple, green and gold ribbons and garland on street signs mark the parade routes.

The free parade is family friendly and is open to all age groups.

The ball will begin at 6 p.m. at Stevens Auction Company, and doors will open at 5:30 p.m. It’s limited to those 21 and older, and live music will be provided by Juke Joint Gypsies.

“We’ll be announcing the king and queen of the ball, chosen by the people, around 10 o’clock, and there will be a presentation ceremony to a very special person at that time,” Palmer said.

Proceeds from the Mardi Gras festivities will go towards purchasing a building to house the Friends of the Aberdeen Animal Shelter Thrift Store, with space for a pet groomer and veterinarian.

Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Friends of the Aberdeen Animal Shelter Thrift Store, Flora’s Collections, Stevens Auction Company, the Aberdeen Visitors Bureau, Twisted Twig and The Friendship House.

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