Lost and found: Mississippi mayor’s wedding ring makes miraculous return after being thrown off hand during Mardi Gras parade

Published 5:37 am Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Dan Gibson and Jordan Paul didn’t know it, but the two strangers were on a collision course with destiny that would turn into such relief and gratitude for one and the satisfying feeling of a good deed well received for the other.

On Friday, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson was ending his busy day riding in the Natchez Mardi Gras parade, tossing beads and candy to the throngs of people lining downtown streets, bundled up trying to protect themselves from chilly winds while trying to catch as many beads and pieces of candy as possible.

It was the best kind of chaos. It’s one of Gibson’s favorite nights of the year.

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On Saturday morning, he was listening to a choir at an event, and as he routinely does, he reached with his right hand to give a little turn to his wedding ring, the one his father wore during his second marriage, which was handed down to Gibson.

“I fiddle with that ring all the time. As I stood there Saturday morning and instinctively reached for it, it wasn’t there. I was stunned. I’ll tell you, I freaked out. I looked at Marla and told her, ‘My wedding ring is gone.’ My father never took that ring off his finger, and neither do I,” Gibson said.

After the choir performance, Gibson thought he must have tossed it off his finger when throwing candy and beads during the parade.

“I retraced every step I took. I looked over every inch of the car. We walked the entire parade route looking for it,” Gibson said. “I knew it was gone.”

But his wife, Natchez First Lady Marla Gibson, was more positive than he. She told him to put a post up on Facebook, letting people know the ring was lost and that he may have tossed it off during the parade. That’s what he did.

The lost wallet

Jordan Paul of Natchez, originally of Clayton, Louisiana, was shopping at The Market in Vidalia on a busy Friday. She had lots to do and hurriedly headed to her vehicle, put her groceries in, and was about to leave when she couldn’t find her wallet.

“I had left the wallet in the shopping cart,” Paul said.

Fortunately, someone had turned it in when she returned to the store.

“If it weren’t for someone turning it in, I would have never known where that wallet was. I would have lost everything,” Paul said.

Later that night, Paul and her boyfriend, Dexter Morace, took their kids to the Natchez Mardi Gras parade. They situated themselves on the south side of Franklin Street in the block before The Guest House, near the start of the parade route.

“My boyfriend and I took the kids to the parade. And right at the beginning, I looked over, and my boyfriend was looking at something in his hand,” she said.

He was holding an 18-karat gold wedding band. Morace had caught it along with a handful of candy.

“He said, ‘There’s no way that was intentional. You need to make a post and find out whose this is,’ ” she said.

She immediately thought about her wallet and the devastating feeling she experienced when she thought it was gone.

She put a post up early Saturday morning before she headed into work, explaining how her boyfriend had caught it during the parade. She said the ring had an inscription on the band.

Natchez Constable Randy Freeman saw Paul’s post.

‘Only in Natchez’

After hours of fruitlessly searching for it on Saturday afternoon, Gibson did what his wife urged and posted on Facebook about his lost ring.

Freeman saw the mayor’s post, too, and immediately called him.

Others started calling Paul, telling her Gibson had lost his ring during the parade.

“Within 15 minutes, I knew my ring had been found,” Gibson said. “God is truly amazing, and I am so grateful to Jordan Paul, who was so kind and honest to post that she and her boyfriend had caught the ring last night. Her post was made five hours before mine, and I am so grateful to the many wonderful people who called, texted, and pointed me to it.

“It was my dad’s, and I will always cherish this new wonderful memory now attached to it. If you happen to see Jordan at County Pie, where she works, please thank her for being such a great Natchezian,” Gibson said.

Marla Gibson, however, was more positive than her husband about finding the ring.

“I knew we would find it,” she said. “Only in Natchez.”