Choose your brand of excitement, beginning Friday morning, during a weekend that offers time-honored rituals and a fundraiser to boost the University of Mississippi Medical Center's MIND Center.
Members of the medical school Class of 2015 will learn where they'll undergo several more years of training when they assemble for the annual Match Day, starting at 10 a.m. Friday at the Jackson Convention Complex.
Beginning Friday night and overlapping into Saturday, the celebrating continues with the Mal's St. Paddy's parade and related festivities, which bring attention and funds to Batson Children's Hospital. And Sunday night, lucky ticket-holders will crowd into Thalia Mara Hall to see legendary soul singer Gladys Knight in concert, a benefit for the MIND Center.
Let's take it from the top:
Darren Scoggin, holding daughter Julie, announces that he will be staying close to home for his residency during Match Day 2014.
- The fourth-year students attending Match Day are among thousands throughout the country who will participate simultaneously in the National Resident Matching Program.
As many as 1,000 will be on hand to watch 125 soon-to-be M.D.s announce where they will spend the next three to seven years in on-the-job residency training, said Dr. Loretta Jackson-Williams, associate dean for academic affairs in the School of Medicine.
The national matching program uses a computerized mathematical system to try and pair the institutional preferences of applicants with the preferences of residency program directors at U.S. teaching hospitals.
Starting at 11 a.m., each student will walk onto a stage, open an envelope holding the name of their future residency home and reveal it to the gathering of family, friends and well-wishers.
During Match Day 2014 Anna Allred puts a pin on a map showing where she is headed for residency.
At those institutions, the newly minted physicians will focus on such specialties as pediatrics, surgery, emergency medicine, family medicine, internal medicine and more. To receive board certification in a medical specialty, a physician must complete a residency. More than one-third of the Medical Center's 2014 medical school class remained at UMMC for residency training. Others traveled as far away as California and Oregon.
Match Day is the finale to a kind of audition process requiring multiple applications, interviews and travels for the students. As a bonus, the last student called to the stage on Match Day will be awarded a doctor's black bag stuffed with a $5 contribution from each of his or her classmates.
In 2014, the national match program offered more than 29,000 first- and second-year positions, 500 more than the previous year, according to the NRMP website.
A morning children's parade is always a favorite before the heavy revelry begins in the afternoon at the Mal's St. Paddy's Parade.
- The Mal's St. Paddy's parade, named for founder Malcolm "Mal" White, began in 1983 as a downtown Jackson event that, as http://malsstpaddysparade.com/ says, gave people the chance to express themselves in "ways outlandish and creative and wonderful." It's grown to attract a national crowd of 75,000-plus revelers and serves as a unique Batson fundraiser.
Activities begin Friday at 5 p.m. with Hal's Marching Malfunction, named for Malcolm White's brother, the late Hal White, at the King Edward Hotel on Capitol Street. Saturday morning, floats for the downtown parade begin lining up at 7 a.m. at Hal and Mal's Restaurant at Pascagoula and State streets.
The St. Paddy's 5K Run and Walk
The St. Paddy's 5K Run and walk begins at 8 a.m. at the Convention Complex. A Children's Festival is at 9 a.m. in front of the Mississippi Museum of Art at the intersection of Pascagoula and South Lamar streets, followed by a 10 a.m. Pet Parade in the same location. A Children's Parade also rolls from in front of the Art Museum at 11 a.m.
The main event begins at 1 p.m. at the corner of State and Court streets and travels through downtown Jackson. The Grand Marshal is blues legend Bobby Rush, and the City Sweepers - a contingency of Batson supporters and Children's Miracle Network Hospitals staff - will stroll in front of the parade, trading Mardi Gras beads and t-shirts for donations to the state's only hospital dedicated to pediatric care.
Everyone loves a pet parade, especially one that features a llama.
"As one of the first major events that stepped up to raise money for Children's Hospital, Mal's St. Paddy's parade set the bar high," said Tena McKenzie, manager of Children's Miracle Network Hospitals and Community Based Fundraising. "Not only has it raised money to meet critical needs, it shared the hospital's story when most didn't even know Mississippi had its own children's hospital. Proceeds helped build the Batson Children's Hospital, provide state-of-the-art equipment and more recently, funded the Children's Art Gallery and art program."
Winning floats will be recognized at about 3:30 p.m. at Hal and Mal's, followed by an after-party featuring the likes of Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Dumpstaphunk, Brown Sabbath and Roxy Roca. You've got to be 18 to attend, and leave your pets and coolers at the house. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate; for tickets, go to Hal and Mal's or www.ardenland.net.
- And, the good news is that Mississippi music lovers can enjoy a living icon and support Alzheimer's research when Gladys Knight, one of music's biggest legends, performs at 7 p.m. Sunday at Thalia Mara.
The bad news is that you won't be going to hear the Empress of Soul unless you already have tickets. The concert has been sold out for weeks. It benefits the MIND (Memory Impairment and Neurodegenerative Dementia Research) Center, a cutting-edge center focused on Alzheimer's disease research and clinical care.
"We are so honored to have such a beloved and wonderful talent as Gladys Knight to help shine a light and accelerate the pace of discovery for treatments for dementia," said MIND Center director Dr. Tom Mosley.
Knight over the past five decades has charmed audiences with her powerful and moving vocals, garnering No. 1 hits in Pop, Gospel, R&B and Adult Contemporary genres. She currently stars in the syndicated sitcom "The First Family," on BET/CENTRIC, where she plays the mother of the President.
Proceeds support the MIND Center's programs in research and clinical care services. Mosley and his team lead one of the largest and most comprehensive studies ever conducted seeking to identify risk factors for Alzheimer's disease and related forms of cognitive decline.