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Fun Fest kicks off with annual Mardi Gras

July 12th, 2014 8:00 am by Lurah Lowery, llowery@timesnews.net

Fun Fest kicks off with annual Mardi Gras

Photo by David Grace

Jumping and screaming for beads, people of all ages participated in Mardi Gras, the kick-off to Fun Fest 2014 Friday.

Activities at the event on Broad Street in downtown Kingsport included all new inflatables, a Slip-N-Slide, a zip line, face painting and Bead Station Bingo. Golf-Zilla also returned this year.

The Sullivan County Sheriff Honor Guard presented the American flag for the singing of the National Anthem by Kaylie Vaughn. Newly crowned Miss Kingsport 2015, Jacquelyn Crawford, threw beads to anxious Fun Festers.

A wave of excitement spread over the crowds of Fun Festers as families and individuals made their way to each fun activity. A little girl danced down the street with her balloon animal. Bright and glittery painted faces smiled while enjoying cold snow cones.

Lead Foot performed at noon followed by a bead toss for children. Entertainment also included a magic show by magician Dave Vaught, performances by the Dobyns-Bennett Spirit Shakers and Top Gun Cheerleaders. Kandis Barnett, 2013 Kingsport Idol winner of the 25-plus category, also performed.

New this year was the hunt for "King Baby Mardi." Clues were given out every hour. A prize from the Mardi Gras committee was given to the winner. The Princess and Pirates Costume Contest was also held.

"We're really excited this year about Fun Fest," Victoria Head said. "We moved to Kingsport when I was in seventh grade and I've been coming since. We do something every year. My Dad's birthday usually starts Fun Fest and mine ends it every year. My Dad likes to think that the parade is for him and the fireworks are for me."

Head brought her stepdaughters, Isabella, 10 and Kendra Roberts, 9, with her to Mardi Gras. They have been attending Fun Fest for five years.

Isabella said one of her favorite things about Mardi Gras is catching beads. Kendra said she likes the rock climbing wall and enjoyed having her face painted. Both enjoy the bouncy house.

"We always have a lot of fun," Head said.

Head is a union electrician and rode with her stepdaughters and other employees in the Food City Parade on a float that IBEW built.

Kingsport's Regions Bank was the primary sponsor of the event. Additional sponsors included Marcum's Pharmacy, MedExpress, Edge Tractor, WTFM and Raymond James-John Davison.

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