State Games opening ceremony planned for May 31

May 25—State Games of Mississippi officials are gearing up for an exciting opening ceremony Friday, May 31, featuring the traditional parade of athletes, fireworks, live music and the arrival of the ceremonial torch to light the cauldron.

"This tradition brings out the best in what Meridian has to offer — great hospitality, exciting events and, of course, spectacular fireworks," State Games Executive Director Missye Dozier said in a news release announcing the opening ceremonies.

A few thousand people are expected to turn out for the opening ceremony, which will take place in downtown Meridian on the city hall lawn. In case of bad weather, participants will be able to shelter in the Arts District Parking Garage and the Temple Theatre, according to officials.

Food and beverage booths will open at 5 p.m. with athletes asked to report to their parade line-up location beginning at 6 p.m. The parade of athletes is set to begin at 7 p.m. Live music will be provided by musician Dan Confait, and kids activities will be available. A special hot-air balloon launch is also planned.

Guest speaker for the opening ceremony will be Dr. James Andrews, an orthopedic surgeon renowned in the field of sports medicine who has treated many high-profile athletes, including Drew Brees, Troy Aikman, Michael Jordan, John Smoltz, Brett Favre and Jack Nicklaus.

A native of Homer, Louisiana, Andrews graduated from Louisiana State University School of Medicine and was a champion SEC pole vaulter while an undergraduate LSU student. He completed his orthopedic residency at Tulane University, as well as fellowships in orthopedics sports medicine at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and the University of Lyon in France.

He began his orthopedic career in 1973 at the Hughston Orthopedic Clinic in Columbus, Georgia, then co-founded the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1986. He also co-founded the American Sports Medicine Institute for research and education in sports injuries. In 2007, he founded the Andrews Institute in Gulf Breeze, Florida, and the Andrews Research and Education Foundation.

Andrews, who retired earlier this year, specialized in injuries related to sports, in particular knee, shoulder and elbow injuries. For more than two decades, he has worked to prevent youth sports injuries in hopes of keeping young athletes on the field and out of the operating room.

The State Games opening ceremony is a prelude to a month jampacked with sporting events in Meridian, including a youth soccer tournament, 5k road race, bowling, cycling, cornhole, table tennis, archery, rifle competition, axe throwing, disc golf, barrel racing and high school baseball, all taking place during the month of June. Other events, such as fencing, youth baseball and cross country mountain bike, will be taking place in other areas of the state during June.

Now in its 33rd year, the State Games of Mississippi offers the state's amateur athletes competition in more than 40 sports. More than 5,000 athletes competed in State Games competitions last year.

Contact Glenda Sanders at