MAGNOLIA, Miss. (WLBT) - Mercedes Ricks and her partner came to Magnolia, Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina.
“And we never left. We lost our house and our jobs, but God gave you lemons, you make lemonade,” Ricks said.
At the suggestion of a former mayor, Ricks opened up a restaurant, La Mariposa. It has now been open 14 years. Ricks decided to do something about six years ago to show her gratitude to her patrons. She’s done the same every year since.
“I will give to the community what I have earned through the years," she said. "This community has been good to me. So to be able to reciprocate my favor it was giving fireworks to everyone that everyone can enjoy.”
This year she had plans to socially distance, using the area in front of her restaurant, as well as across the street at the park next to city hall. Nobody thought coronavirus would be an issue.
Last Tuesday, the board voted to extend the city’s mask mandate through January.
“Pushing it to January first I thought was a little excessive," said alderman Joe Cornaccione. "I was not given a reason at the board as to why it was extended. I wanted to just extend it until after the election sometime.”
But they also made another surprise decision. After approving Ricks' application to have her yearly outdoor party, all the aldermen except Cornaccione rescinded their approval, blaming Covid. Cornaccione said it had been a given before the meeting and after discussions that Ricks would have her party. After all, there are football games and the state fair and other big events going on.
“It kinda blew my mind that that’s what we did, especially after we told her she could have it," he said. "And I’m not the only one who feels like it was a vindictive move.”
Ricks returned some of what was ordered for the party, but she was stuck with the bill for $6,000 worth of fireworks. She wonders if she isn’t ultimately paying for some of the decisions she made when she served as an alderwoman years ago. For one, she called for a pay decrease for city officials who she felt should do the part-time work more as a service and less as a moneymaker.
She can’t help but feel like it could have been done better, especially for a local business which brings tax dollars into the small town.
“If they would have told me on that Tuesday when I went there then no, we would have had no problems,” she said.