The Meridian Star
With multicolored hair and painted faces, Mississippians from all over the state gathered in front of City Hall in downtown Meridian Friday night to celebrate the 22nd annual opening ceremonies of The State Games of Mississippi.
The event kicked off with music from local rock band The Slackers who kept the crowd on its feet and dancing throughout the event's early festivities.
This year marks the third time The Slackers have opened up for the State Games in the last five years. Front man Timmy Segars said the event is one of his favorite places to perform.
“It's the people,” Segars said. “You get to play for the hometown crowd plus a bunch of people from around the state. It just brings everybody together.”
Segars said moving the event in front of City Hall has only added to the atmosphere.
“There is always a good crowd,” Segars said. “With the big PA system rocking, it makes for a really fun gig. We enjoy it so much, I made our guitar player stay in town one extra day before leaving for vacation, it's just a good time.”
Many local coaches and athlete's were in attendance, including Southeast Lauderdale High School girls basketball coach Joe Miller and Meridian Community College baseball coach Dillon Sudduth. A regular at the State Games, Miller took the event in this year in support of his grandson Miles Miller as the 10-year old will compete in the Game's junior soccer tournament today.
“We've had a lot of fun at the State Games in the past when the basketball was here,” Miller said. “Now I get to come and support my grandson and watch him play over the weekend. It's a lot of fun, and it is a great crowd this year.”
Following the opening festivities members from each of the participating cities marched onto the stage sporting their pride with crazy face paint and outfits. A favorite among the crowd was the group from Saltillo who wore fake beards and camouflage to resemble the cast of the hit television show Duck Dynasty.
During the national anthem, a giant hot-air balloon was lifted into the sky taking with it an American flag.
Last year's State Games athletes of the year, brother-sister duo Dallas and Christie Striker then ran the two torches onto the stage lighting the official State Games flame through a zip line which connected from the stage out onto the Doughboy Memorial. Immediately after, the crowd was treated to a professional firework display into the sunset sky.