February 5, 2010 10:04:00 AM
David Miller -
STARKVILLE -- Dudy Gras just keeps getting bigger, and Mississippi State baseball John Cohen is enjoying every minute of it.
The annual parade celebrates the start of MSU''s baseball season, but organizers have taken it to a new level for this year''s edition.
In addition to the annual parade that''s marched through Starkville and to Left Field Lounge at Dudy Noble Field, there will be a first-ever Dudy Gras Ball at the conclusion of "Eight Days of Dudy Gras" at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn.
As in year''s past, Dudy Gras looks to raise money for the Oktibbeha County chapter of the American Red Cross.
The parade starts at 4 p.m. today and tickets for the Dudy Gras ball are on sale for $40 through the Red Cross, Bulldog Deli, Holiday Inn Express and at Prudential Starkville Properties.
Of course, Cohen''s playing days at MSU didn''t feature the immaculate celebration and events that Dudy Gras provides MSU baseball fans, but the second-year head coach said the same passionate fan base exists today like it did when he played in the late 1980s.
"Dudy Gras is just one of the ways to celebrate MSU baseball," Cohen said. "It''s always been that way here. There''s a group of people around the state, who look at baseball as a celebration. That''s something that''s pretty unique around the country."
The Dudy Gras route will start at Rick''s Cafe in Starkville today as floats headed for Left Field Lounge will begin lining up between 3- 3:30 p.m.
In addition to today''s festivities, Dudy Gras officials will hold a silent auction to raise money for the Red Cross.
Cohen, whose players are set to hand-deliver season tickets to their holders on Saturday, is optimistic rain will hold off and the hard work will turn to good times for Dudy Gras organizers and MSU basball fans.
"Chip Carley and Hobie Hobart (Dudy Gras organizers) have found a way to make everyhting more special," Cohen said. We want to move it further and make it bigger and better. Our fans enjoy it, we enjoy it and it''s for a great cause."
In addition, MSU players will hand deliver season tickets to season ticket holders in Starkville.