By ANGIE CARNATHAN
A Mississippi State University and Starkville tradition, the annual Dudy Gras parade, begins 4:30 p.m. today at the Rickâ€™s Cafe parking lot.
â€śWe call this the sixth-and-a-half annual Dudy Gras celebration because we got sleet and snow the first year,â€ť co-founder Hobie Hobart said in December. â€śWe ended up at Mugshots where we paraded around the restaurant. That should give us at least a half-year credit.â€ť
Hobart said trailers, trucks and MSU fans will gather at Rickâ€™s Cafe at 3:30 p.m., and the parade plans to pull out at 4:30 p.m. Hobart said he hopes to have high participation this year and encourages everyone to join the fun.
â€śI donâ€™t care if itâ€™s just some fans in the back of a pickup truck,â€ť Hobart said. â€śWear some maroon and white, bring a cowbell and come celebrate the beginning of baseball season with us.â€ť
Hobart said as long as someone is an MSU fan and is willing to decorate his or her vehicle and ring a cowbell out of a window, heâ€™ll be happy.
â€śIâ€™ve always said two is a coincidence and three is a parade,â€ť Hobart said. â€śThis is all about having fun and celebrating a great time of year and a great tradition in Starkville.â€ť
Hobart hopes fans will show up and support the parade as well, which begins by going west on Highway 182, takes a left on Washington Street and heads up to Main Street where it continues down Main Street and University Drive to campus. After the rigs are set up, everyone is invited back to Rickâ€™s Cafe for the post-party and awards ceremony. There is a â€śBest Overall Rigâ€ť award and a â€śLaissez les Bon Temps Roulezâ€ť award, which is French for â€śLet the Good Times Roll.â€ť Hobart said this award is typically given to the group that has the most fun.
Hobart said the tradition began so that fans could get together and celebrate the opening of not only MSU baseball season, but also move-in day for the Left Field Lounge.
Joe Dier of MSU media relations said in December the Left Field Lounge became a gathering spot in the 1960s when fans were allowed to drive their vehicles to the area behind left field to watch the games.
Hobart said he would like to thank sponsors Coca-Cola, Coors Light, Hilton Garden Inn, Stromboliâ€™s, Halfway House, Cappeâ€™s Steak House, Sistrunk Painting, Rickâ€™s Cafe, 99.9 The Fox Radio, Hobie Dawgs, Hardeeâ€™s, Sweet Pepperâ€™s Deli, McCallisterâ€™s Deli, The Veranda and Robert Stringer, who did the art work.