Ceremonies kicked off with a bang for the Mississippi State Games. The games are a tradition that's carried on and grown for over two decades now. And organizers say seeing all that hard work culminate in the opening ceremonies is an exhilarating feeling.
"When you see the accumulation of everybody coming together and celebrating these athletes and our dignitaries that have shown up, it's very emotional for everybody. It's very positive," director Krilecia Gianakos says.
One of those dignitaries was Congressman Gregg Harper, who says he admires what this event means for the youth across Mississippi.
"It's an incredible opportunity to see all these young athletes, and they get to see some people come in that are great role models to be here. To have these Olympic athletes, people that have won Olympic gold medals. And there's not a better place to host it than Meridian, Mississippi."
Which is easy to see, when you watch thousands of kids outside dancing and cheering, the ultimate pep rally for athletes preparing for their games. Coach Grady Crosslin, who coaches U-14 soccer, brought his team to the state games for the first time. And he says the opening ceremonies have definitely met their expectations.
"We had heard it was a great time," he says. "Obviously, as far as the games, it's going to be a great competition, but the whole parade of athletes event was going to be fun, exciting. So a lot of the boys dressed up and did crazy things like wear tutus and I'm wearing a costume."
Soon these athletes will be deep in competition. But the opening ceremonies are time for a little bit of fun.