With the sounds, colors and cuisine of New Orleans, Downtown Sherman was rife with bead-clad people marching from business to business Saturday for the annual Mardi Gras Bead Crawl.


Downtown restaurants featured Cajun-themed entrees and shops held special discounts and giveaways during the nearly all-day event, which also featured 28 businesses taking part in a downtown crossword puzzle, which gave participants a chance to win a gift basket. The puzzle required the participants to go shop to shop to collect the clues and the colorful plastic beads iconic to Mardi Gras.


“As I walked around downtown and went in all the stores, they were filled with shoppers playing the game, just shopping, trying the adult beverages or collecting beads,” Executive Director Karen Tooley of Downtown Sherman NOW said. “It brought a lot of people into the businesses and that was our goal.”


Tooley coordinated the event with Sherman Main Street, and she said the event was designed to get people to see what downtown has to offer.


Around the necks of Tim and Kim Scoggins, of Achille, Oklahoma, were beads of various kinds including a strand from 903 Brewers that featured an empty can of one of its beers. The two were walking downtown completing the crossword puzzle.


“I think that if people would come down and actually look in some of these places, there would be a lot more local buying,” Tim Scoggins said. “They have some really nice stuff that is reasonably priced.”


Kim Scoggins said she too was surprised by the number and quality of shops located downtown. She said they discovered many stores they previously didn’t know existed.


“You drive around all the time going to work, but you never stop and pay attention,” Kim Scoggins said. “With them doing this and bringing attention to the businesses, it really helps.”


Earlier in the day, local groups held activities for children such as face painting, coloring and mask making. St. Stephens Episcopal Church hosted the mask making station on the porch of Old Iron Post. Father Wesley Evans said the station was set up inside the church last year, but it was a lackluster response. With the move of location, he said they had many more participants.


Evans noted Mardi Gras is the long held celebration before Ash Wednesday and the fasting of Lent begins.


“It is a reminder too that we’re celebrating because we’re going to be fasting soon during Lent and we won’t celebrate again like this until Easter,” Evans said.


During the afternoon, the N’Awlins Gumbo Kings performed the Dixeland jazz inside the Sherman Jazz Museum. Once evening came, Bourbon Nights brought Dixieland music to Old Iron Post.


Sherry Little, owner of Old Iron Post, said her business was busy and the crowd seemed to be enjoying the event. She said this year did not appear as crazy as the previous one. She said she also met people whose first time in Sherman was for this celebration.


Selling king cake popcorn, themed after traditional sweetbread tied to Mardi Gras, Gary Roberts, owner of Pop Pop Popcorn, said his shop was filled with shoppers and the special blend was selling well. Some bags of the king cake popcorn had a small plastic baby inside, which is iconic to the regular king cake and grants the finder privileges or obligations. Finders of the plastic baby inside the popcorn bag won a mask and a chance at a $25 gift certificate. He noted that the event brought in people from Dallas, Denton and other areas.


“It’s bringing a lot of people downtown and that’s what we’re excited about,” Roberts said. “It’s not just Sherman people.”