Petal readies for Relay May 3


So far this season, Petal Relay For Life – a fundraising arm of the American Cancer Society – has reached approximately 42 percent of its financial goal of $64,000.

Between sponsorships and this year’s Relay Night, which will be held from 5-11 p.m. May 3 at Hinton Park behind Petal Civic Center, officials hope to make up the remaining balance of  that goal – as well as raise cancer awareness as much as possible.

“I don’t think there’s anyone that isn’t touched by cancer in some way, whether it’s a very close family member, a friend or themselves,” said Haylee Ferguson, who serves as Relay Life committee chair. “Cancer is a word that nobody likes to hear. 

“So anything that we can do as a community and a committee to help fight back and celebrate the ones that have gone through that, and then raise funds for research and draw awareness, we’re willing to do. It’s in the hope that one day, we won’t have to have the fear of hearing ‘you’ve got cancer.’”

This year’s event will begin with a Survivor Reception from 5-6 p.m. featuring the Petal High School Jazz Band. The opening ceremony will start at 6 p.m. with Miss Hattiesburg Macy Mitchell singing the National Anthem, followed by a Survivor/Caregiver Lap around the park’s track.

Entertainment, which will begin at around 7 p.m., will feature Mike Russell as Elvis, Anna McDaniel, Mallory Dykes and 18 Miles.

At 9:30 p.m., officials will begin the Luminaria Ceremony, in which hundreds of luminaria – votive candles in small paper bags – will be lit around the track. Jean Young will speak for the occasion, followed by singing from Josh Young.

“We do have luminaria available for purchase from any of the teams that will be at Relay,” Ferguson said. “Then we also have torches available for purchase, and those are a little bit larger – they’re torches that will have a medallion on them that is a keepsake in itself.”

Singer/songwriter Josh Birdsong will take the stage from 10:30-11 p.m., followed by the closing ceremony at 11 p.m.

The theme for this year’s Relay Night, which is free and open to the public, is “Game Show and Reality TV Shows.”

“We have everything from a hometown-themed booth that will have an old-fashioned candy bar, to mimic the one Erin and Ben Napier have at the general store in Laurel,” Ferguson said. “Our Cosmopolitan Club will have ‘The Real Housewives of Petal’ tent this year, and they will be selling chicken on a stick.

“We’ll have anything else to sell, from candy to games for the kids, hamburgers, pulled pork. We’ll have a wide variety of food, so people can come out and eat supper and listen to some entertainment.”

Although it’s too early to tell what turnout to expect for the event, but Ferguson is looking forward to a good night.

“It’s so hard to judge from year to year, but we’re really hoping that we have a great turnout,” Ferguson said. “We’ve got some really fun things going on this year.

“It’s going to be a fun time, and we’re excited about the different things that our teams will come up with.”