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#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

#News - New Orleans & South Louisiana

Puppy Parade: Mardi Paws Parade rolls in Mandeville

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 03:05 PM PST

MANDEVILLE, La.-- The Mystic Krewe of Mardi Paws parade rolled on Lakeshore Drive in Mandeville this afternoon.   The parade celebrates pups and their owners.

WGNO's Kenny Lopez went to the parade which had a theme this year of: "Fables, Fairy Tales, and Nursery Rhymes."

Dog owners registered their dogs to take part in the parade for $25.  Money raised goes to help the Ian Somerhalder Foundation which aims to make the planet better for people and its creatures.


Tulane sweeps weekend series with Wright State

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 02:48 PM PST

New Orleans -- Tulane's 2018 season got started in the best way possible, sweeping the weekend series with Wright State. The Green Wave won Friday 4-3, won Saturday 6-5, and then finished it off with an 11-5 win Sunday.

In the series finale, Tulane and Wright State were tied at 2 through the first inning, then the Green Wave took the lead in the third with the ground-out RBI from Grant Witherspoon to make it 3-2 Green Wave. The Raiders responded in the top of the 5th with 2 more runs-- including a Zach Weatherford solo home run and an RBI single from Gabe Snyder. In the bottom half of the 5th, Tulane jumped back out front for good, thanks to a sac fly from Sal Gozzo, followed later by a Matt Rowland 3-run home run. The 7-4 lead was enough of a cushion for the Green Wave, who then added 2 more runs in the 7th and 2 more in the 8th.

Four Tulane players had multiple hits in the win, with Rowland leading the way with 5 RBI on a 2-5 day at the plate. Witherspoon was 1-3 with 3 RBI and 2 runs scored. On the mound, starter Keagan Gillies went 4 and two-thirds innings, giving up 4 runs on 4 hits. Five pitchers then came out of the bullpen to close-out the game, giving-up a combined one run on 3 hits in the final 4 and a third innings.

Tulane (3-0) now hits the road for their next series, playing 3 games at Ole Miss this coming weekend. Their game Friday, Feb. 23 is at 4 p.m., followed by a 3 p.m. first pitch on Saturday and 1 p.m. first pitch Sunday.

They put the chic in ‘biker chick’: This all female biker group demands respect

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 02:10 PM PST

NEW ORLEANS -- Welcome to 2018, the age of recognizing a woman's place in this world -- right next to men.

Meet the Caramel Curves, an all female biker group joining the female empowerment movement by motorcycle. This is not your typical biker group.

"We're girly, but we like to get dirty," said co-founder Tru. "We dress up in heels, wear make up, get our hair and nails done, and race the boys."

They're fearless, they're chic, and they rip through the streets of New Orleans in 4-inch stilettos.

"We're the coldest chicks on bikes," said co-founder Coco, who wears Chanel gloves with her hot pink bike. "You don't see anyone doing what we're doing. We ride bikes, two wheels, in heels, we come through, we burn rubber, we pop wheelies, we race, we do whatever boys can do, but better. And, we look cuter while doing it."

They're mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, and they're demanding respect in a typically male-dominated hobby.

"It's very empowering only because a lot of guys think there's only certain things women can do, like cook, clean, drive cars, but we do it all," said Caramel Curve member Icy Baby.

You may have seen them during Mardi Gras; they rode in Femme Fatal. They're hard to miss with their colorful hair, matching get-ups, and the pink smoke that follows when they do a burnout.

As for their riding outfits, they say as long as you can walk in heels, you can ride in them.

"It's easier actually, they lift you up, make you taller, and you can balance on your bike better," said Foxy, a Caramel Curve.

But there is one rule of the group.

"If you're not a broad you can't ride with us," laughed Coco. "What dude is going to want to wear heels anyway!"

They are inspiring girls everywhere, one wheelie at a time.

‘My school is being shot up’

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 12:13 PM PST

On Valentine’s Day morning, Nikolas Cruz’s 5-foot-7-inch, 120-pound frame couldn’t be shaken from his bed in suburban Parkland, Florida.

Cruz, 19, lived on a lush street dotted with tropical plants with a family who had opened their home to him after the death of his adoptive parents. The father, James Snead, normally delivered Cruz to his adult GED class on the way to work. Wednesday was different.

“I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day,” the freckle-faced Cruz insisted.

At his former high school five miles away, a new day was beginning.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School’s free breakfast was winding down. The 7:40 a.m. bell signaling the start of first period loomed.

The “daily morning affirmation” that day on the public school’s website came from the late self-help author Louise Hay: “Life supports me in every way possible.”

Lori Alhadeff dropped off her 14-year-old daughter, Alyssa, at the sprawling campus, home to more than 3,000 students.

“I love you,” she told Alyssa.

That day, teachers collected applications for the National English Honor Society. Members of the tennis teams raised money with the sale of hoodies, yoga pants and other items. Classmates exchanged Valentine’s Day carnations sold for $1 in a cafeteria. At lunchtime, some students left $60 deposits for graduation rings.

The school day went on as normal. But before the last bell of the day could ring, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School — whose motto tells students to “be positive, be passionate” — would be the scene of one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.

‘So many shots’

It was no secret to those that knew him that Cruz was fascinated with guns and violence.

He posed with guns and knives on Instagram, showed guns to a former classmate and kept a semiautomatic rifle in a lockbox in his room. A former classmate said Cruz would sometimes introduce himself as a “school shooter.”

The orphaned youth also battled mental illness and depression, his attorneys said later, exacerbated by the recent death of his adoptive mother. She had repeatedly called police to the home to help deal with his violent outbursts. A defense attorney called him “a broken child.”

Cruz eventually made it out of bed that Valentine’s Day. He exchanged a number of unremarkable text messages with the son of the family he stayed with and called an Uber.

At 2:19 p.m., a gold-colored Uber vehicle dropped him off at the school he once attended. A school employee recognized him.

Cruz had been expelled for unspecified disciplinary reasons. Now he was back, with a .223-caliber AR-15 rifle concealed in a soft black case.

The employee alerted a colleague that the former student was “walking purposefully” toward a school building.

The school, like many across the US, had made active shooter training drills its protocol.

Cruz entered the school building at the east stairwell.He pulled the rifle out of its bag.

At some point, Cruz activated a fire alarm.

Nicole Baltzer, 18, was in trigonometry class. In 10 minutes, the school day would be over. Why was the fire alarm blaring again?

There had been a fire drill earlier in the day. This second one sowed confusion, and students began to scurry from classrooms.

Cruz began the massacre, initially targeting people on the first floor. Bursts of semiautomatic fire echoed in the corridors.

“So many shots,” Baltzer said. “They were very close.”

Freshman Kelsey Friend and her classmates in geography class rushed back into their classroom once they heard the shots.

Her teacher, Scott Beigel, 35, unlocked the door for them. There he stood, like a sentry, ushering his students to safety.

She thought Beigel would follow her inside. He didn’t. The sound of gunfire grew louder.

Friend wanted to believe this was just another drill. A more realistic one maybe, with police officers shooting blanks. Other students thought firecrackers were causing the staccato bursts.

Then Friend realized this was no drill. Beigel’s body crumpled to the floor at the classroom door.

Later she would say, “I am alive today because of him.”

The first 911 call came at 2:23 p.m. The shooter’s identity was already known.

“I’m being told, advised by the employees, that it should be a student,” an officer at the school radioed to dispatch.

“Nikolas Cruz, Nikolas Cruz, who came in on campus with a backpack.”

Another transmission provided more information: “I’m being advised by ROTC students that he was kicked out last year. We’re still looking for a photo — he worked at a Dollar Store on Magnolia. Last name spelling is C-R-U-Z.”

‘I’m in a school shooting right now’

Terrified, the students turned to the familiar: cell phone cameras, text messages, Snapchat and Twitter. They gave the world a glimpse into their horror as it unfolded. Trembling hands. Blood-curdling screams. Bullet-strewn classrooms. Blood-stained floors. Bodies.

Freshman Aidan Minoff, 14, sent his first tweet at 2:59 p.m.

“I’m in a school shooting right now.”

He hunkered down under a desk in a dark classroom. The shooter stalked the corridors outside.

Minutes later, Aidan tweeted again.

“My school is being shot up and I am locked inside. I’m f***ing scared right now.”

The tweet included photos of students huddled on the floor. They checked their phones between desks. One appeared to be texting.

In 17-year-old Hannah Carbocci’s Holocaust history class, a bullet pierced the wall. She thought of her big sister, her protector.

Pop-pop! Pop-pop! Screams. More gunshots.

Hannah, under a teacher’s desk, texted her 19-year-old sister Kaitlin.


kaitlin there is a shooter on campus

i am not joking

call 911 please

send them to douglas


hannah what

are you serious rn


kaitlin i am not joking they just shot through the walls someone in my class is injured

i am not joking

call mom and dad

‘The Kevlar would slow the bullet down’

Assistant coach and security guard Aaron Feis, a graduate of the School, put himself between three students and the shooter, an act of bravery that surprised no one.

Feis was shot. He died after he was rushed into surgery.

Colton Haab, a 17-year-old junior and football player, would say later, “That’s Coach Feis. He wants to make sure everybody is safe before himself.”

As the shots rang out, Haab ushered 60 to 70 people to shelter in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps room. They shielded themselves behind sheets of Kevlar used for Junior ROTC marksmanship practice.

“The Kevlar would slow the bullet down,” Haab thought.

Teacher Melissa Falkowski hid in a large closet with nearly 20 students. She brought them in from the hallway. Some were crying. Other were calling or texting family with words of gratitude and love.

Cruz wasn’t done. He roamed the first-floor halls before going to the second floor. He shot a victim in another room.

On the third floor, he dropped his rifle and bag. He then ran out of the building, blending in with students and staff who were pouring out of the school, many with their hands in the air.

Responding officers suspected as much.

“Someone checking the IDs of those kids before they get up and leave the area?” an officer radioed to dispatch.

Later came another transmission: “Attention all units, be advised — a repeat of the last instruction — juveniles being loaded onto the buses are going to park. The IDs need to be checked of the juveniles before they get on the buses. Make sure that Nikolas Cruz isn’t part of this group.”

‘I knew at that point she was gone’

But Cruz slipped away. He bought a drink at a Subway sandwich shop inside a nearby Walmart. Later, he sat at a McDonald’s for a few minutes.

Police helicopters buzzed overhead. Tearful students reunited outside the school with their parents.

Lori Alhadeff, hours after dropping off her daughter Alyssa, raced back to the school when she learned of the shooting.

“I knew at that point she was gone,” she said. “I felt it in my heart.” Alyssa didn’t make it.

Other students remained on lockdown. Not taking chances, some called 911 before letting SWAT teams members enter.

“Student in Classroom 1255 says somebody’s pushing on her door — is that a police officer? Any units pushing on 1255?” a police dispatcher asked.

“Yes, yes, 1255, that’s going to be us,” an officer responded.

“You want them to open it or do you want me to tell them to stand down?”

“Tell her to open her door, have her open her door right now!”

As student Masiel Baluja evacuated, she put her book bag on her back just in case she got shot from behind. She ran toward students and teachers. She jumped a fence before police escorted her to a group of students assembled near Walmart. She could see her mother, but Masiel was suspicious of those around her.

“I didn’t know if any of them were shooters or not,” Masiel said later, fighting back tears. “I felt very uncomfortable because anybody can be a shooter.”

‘He looked like a typical high school student’

A police officer made contact with Snead, the father who had taken in Cruz after the teen’s mother died last fall.

Snead said he had spoken with Cruz, who told him he was at the McDonald’s near campus.

Nearly 80 minutes after the first 911 call, a police officer from nearby Coconut Creek spotted a young man walking along the side of a residential street. The description and clothing matched the shooter’s.

“He looked like a typical high school student,” officer Michael Leonard said. “For a quick moment I thought, ‘Could this be the person? Is this who I need to stop?'”

Leonard pulled over and Cruz, wearing a maroon polo shirt with the school’s eagle mascot on the sleeve, surrendered without incident.

“We have the suspect detained,” came the radio call at 3:41 p.m.

The suspect in the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook was caught and 17 people were dead.

A rowdy boy almost made her quit teaching. Then he became her son

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 12:02 PM PST

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Fourth-grader Jerome Robinson was the bane of his young teacher’s career.

“At certain points, his behavior got so bad,” Chelsea Haley said, “I thought, ‘I can’t do this anymore. I can’t be a teacher.'”

Haley joined Teach for America to make a difference in a low-income school. She did not expect to encounter a tough boy like Jerome. She definitely did not plan on adopting him and his little brother.

“I never thought I’d be a single mom at age 24, especially of two boys, one of which was my 12-year-old student. And the other one who was only a year-and-a-half.”

Teacher and student form unlikely bond

Haley had been chairwoman of the College Republicans at the University of Georgia. While interning on Capitol Hill, she sat in on meetings about education policy and joined Teach For America upon graduation. That’s how she ended up at an elementary school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, struggling to control Jerome Robinson and, somehow, gaining his trust.

Other teachers would send the boy to Haley’s classroom, where she made him get his work done. “I got a lot of thankful emails and knocks on my door,” she said.

Jerome lived with his birth mother at the time. “It was really hard on her after she lost her husband,” Haley said. A little sister also passed away. “It was just a combination of tragedy coupled with the other social situations you face when you live in poverty.”

The boy, and his newborn brother Jace, moved around a lot. “They spent a lot of time living with their grandparents.”

Birth mother makes bold request

By 2015, Haley was finishing her two-year Teach For America obligation, but she felt something pulling her back as though her work wasn’t quite done.

The school principal suggested Haley stick around “for Jerome.” She did, signing on for a third year as a special education teacher.

One night that October, Haley felt as though God came to her in a dream, telling her she was destined to be Jerome’s mother. She laughed out loud, thinking the idea was preposterous, and went back to sleep. But the next day at school, the teacher was overcome with a profound, peaceful feeling while Jerome sat alone with her taking a test.

“He just asked me if he could live with me,” Haley recalled. “I told him I had been feeling the same thing.”

The next day, Haley went to dinner with Jerome, Jace and their mother.

Haley explained she was finishing her third year at the school, and planned to return to Georgia. “You can go back,” the boys’ mother told Haley. “But I want you to take Jerome and Jace with you.”

Forming a new family

Haley filed papers for permanent custody of Jerome in December 2015. Later she filed papers to adopt Jace as well.

“You have to be 12 years older than somebody to obtain custody of them, and I am 12 years and three months older than him.”

Haley pulled money out of her retirement plan for a down payment on a house where her two boys could have a stable life.

She’s now a 26-year-old middle school teacher in Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta.

Jerome “has not gotten any suspensions or anything, which is a huge improvement from life in Louisiana,” Haley said. “He used to fail all of his classes and just didn’t care. Now he has made honor roll both quarters of his eighth-grade year so far.”

The boys are thriving. So is Chelsea Haley — as a teacher and as a mother.

“I always knew I wanted to be a mom and I wouldn’t trade this for anything,” Haley said.

Family that took in Florida shooting suspect: ‘We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know’

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 11:53 AM PST

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The family that took in Florida school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz said they knew he was lonely, depressed and a bit odd but saw no warning signs of a coming massacre.

“We had this monster living under our roof and we didn’t know,” Kimberly Snead told the South Florida Sun Sentinel in an interview Saturday. “We didn’t see this side of him.”

The interview with the Sun Sentinel is the first the Snead family has given since Cruz opened fire last Wednesday at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people. Their story aligns with what the family attorney, Jim Lewis, previously told CNN on their behalf.

Cruz came to live with the Snead family, whose son was friendly with Cruz, after his adopted mother died last November. The family gave Cruz a home, enrolled him in adult-education classes and helped him get a job at a local Dollar Tree store, Lewis told CNN.

The Sneads said that Cruz seemed depressed, but they did not sense, as others have said, that Cruz was someone likely to be a school shooter.

“Everything everybody seems to know, we didn’t know,” James Snead told the Sun Sentinel. “It’s as simple as that.”

Cruz was set to inherit $800,000

When Cruz moved into their home they had to teach him basic needs, including how to cook, use the microwave, do laundry and pick up after himself, the Sneads said.

“He was very naïve. He wasn’t dumb, just naïve,” James Snead told the Sun Sentinel.

The family said that Cruz was not cruel to animals and seemed to love their two dogs and six cats.

In addition, Cruz told the family he was set to inherit at least $800,000 from his deceased parents, most of which would come to him when he turned 22, the Sneads told the Sun Sentinel.

On the day of the shooting, Cruz told the family he didn’t need a ride to school, saying, “It’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t go to school on Valentine’s Day.” Kimberly Snead saw Cruz at about 10 a.m. on the day of the shooting, with no sense of what was to come.

Cruz texted with the Sneads’ teenage son later that day and even asked him what classroom at Stoneman Douglas he was in. When the shooting began, the son managed to flee unharmed to a nearby middle school, according to the Sun Sentinel.

‘He looked lost, absolutely lost’

The Sneads allowed Cruz to bring his firearms into the home, but they made him buy a locking gun safe, they told the Sun Sentinel. James Snead thought he had the only key to the safet, but he now believes Cruz kept one for himself, he told the paper.

They said they told Cruz he needed to ask permission to take out the guns.

“This family did what they thought was right, which was take in a troubled kid and try to help him, and that doesn’t mean he can’t bring his stuff into their house,” Lewis, their attorney, told CNN.

“They had it locked up and believed that that was going to be sufficient, that there wasn’t going to be a problem,” Lewis added. “Nobody saw this kind of aggression or motive in this kid, that he would ever do anything like this.”

The Sneads told the Sun Sentinel that they crossed paths with Cruz at the sheriff’s station as he was being led into the building in handcuffs after the shooting.

Kimberly Snead lunged at him angrily before being held back by her husband.

“Really, Nik? Really?” she yelled.

“He said he was sorry. He apologized. He looked lost, absolutely lost,” James Snead told the newspaper. “And that was the last time we saw him.”

Parkland students say, ‘We are going to be the last mass shooting’

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 09:30 AM PST

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To those who would say it’s too soon after the school massacre to talk about politics and gun control, the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High see your point.

“We can respect that. We’ve lost people. It’s important to mourn,” junior Cameron Kasky said Sunday.

“Here’s a time to talk about gun control: March 24. My message for the people in office is: You’re either with us or against us. We are losing our lives while the adults are playing around.”

Be forewarned: They’re coming for the National Rifle Association and any politician who takes money from the gun lobbyist, Kasky and his classmates told CNN. The NRA did not immediately return CNN’s call seeking comment.

According to a mission statement for March For Our Lives, students across the country will converge on Washington next month to say the nation can no longer wait to tackle issues of school safety and gun control reform. They’re asking that like-minded folks who can’t make it to the nation’s capital stage solidarity marches in their own communities.

“Every kid in this country now goes to school wondering if this day might be their last. We live in fear,” the March For Our Lives website says. “It doesn’t have to be this way. Change is coming. And it starts now, inspired by and led by the kids who are our hope for the future. Their young voices will be heard.”

Kasky thanked the older generation that provided him and his contemporaries with “endless support,” but he flatly told them, in light of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 of his teachers and classmates dead and what he sees as continued inaction from adults, “We don’t need you.”

“You are going to be seeing students in every single major city marching and we have our lives on the line here, and at the end of the day, that is going to be what’s bringing us to victory and to making some sort of right out of this tragedy,” he told CNN. “This is about us begging for our lives.”

Kasky appeared on CNN with four fellow students, including Emma Gonzalez and David Hogg, who have been outspoken since Wednesday’s shooting about the need to reform gun control laws.

“We’ve sat around too long being inactive in our political climate, and as a result, children have died,” Hogg said. “If our elected officials are not willing to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to continue to take money from the NRA because children are dying,’ they shouldn’t be in office and they won’t be in office because this is a midterm year and this is the change that we need.”

Kasky went so far as to say he and his classmates wanted to stigmatize politicians who take campaign contributions from the NRA.

“This isn’t about the GOP. This isn’t about the Democrats,” he said. “This is about us creating a badge of shame for any politicians who are accepting money from the NRA and using us as collateral.”

Gonzalez added, “We are going to be the difference.” At a Saturday rally, the senior told a crowd of hundreds that the time for inaction was over.

“Maybe the adults have got used to saying, ‘It is what it is,'” Gonzalez said in a fiery speech. “But if us students have learned anything, it’s that if you don’t study, you will fail. And in this case if you actively do nothing, people continually end up dead.”

Read Gonzalez’s full remarks

“We are going to be the kids you read about in textbooks. Not because we’re going to be another statistic about mass shooting in America, but because, just as David said, we are going to be the last mass shooting,” she added.

Missed signs

Details of what may have been warning signs missed by authorities, school officials and those who were in contact with shooter Nikolas Cruz continue emerging in the aftermath of the shooting.

The FBI failed to act on a January 5 tip of information about “Cruz’s gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting,” the agency said.

The proper protocols weren’t followed and the FBI’s Miami office was not notified, the agency said.

A video blogger said he warned the FBI in September about a possible school shooting threat from a YouTube user with the same name as Cruz. The FBI did not find information to identify the person who posted the comment and no connection was made to South Florida, said Robert Lasky, FBI special agent in charge of the Miami division.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review Friday into how the Cruz tip was missed and how authorities respond to similar situations.

How to help victims of the Florida school shooting

Cruz’s school disciplinary record shows he was reprimanded many times since middle school for incidents that included bad language and disrupting class. He was also punished once for fighting and once for assault.

Laurel Holland, a retired teacher who had Cruz in her English class during his junior year, said Cruz cursed her out during midterm exams and was suspended for two days in 2016.

There was a time when Cruz was caught at school with a gun-related object in his backpack, but Holland said teachers don’t know what to do when kids exhibit “nebulous” behavior.

Kids who act out are referred to administrators, she said. Kids who cut class get detention. If she saw someone with suspicious bruises, she’d know to call social workers, who would get police involved. But with Cruz, there was no clear path.

“He fell through the cracks because we don’t know what to do,” she said.

The gunman’s future

Cruz, who is facing charges of premeditated murder, is willing to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty, according to public defender’s office representing him.

There’s no question Cruz killed 17 students and staff members in Wednesday’s shooting at the high school in Parkland, Broward County public defender Howard Finkelstein said.

“The only question is, does he live or does he die?” Finkelstein asked.

State Attorney Michael J. Satz said Saturday that this “certainly is the type of case the death penalty was designed for,” but now is the time “to let the families grieve and bury their children and loved ones.”

The 19-year-old is being held without bond in Broward County.

Cruz’s digital footprint includes slurs against blacks and Muslims, and declarations of a desire to shoot people. Other social media posts show a photo of a rifle, a collection of firearms on a bed and a photo taken through a scope looking out a window.

In a private Instagram group chat, Cruz talked about killing Mexicans, keeping black people in chains and cutting their necks. After one member expressed hatred for gay people, Cruz concurred, saying, “Shoot them in the back of head.”

As of late Saturday, three patients injured in the shooting remained hospitalized in fair condition, one of whom just recently upgraded from critical condition, according to Broward Health.

It is not clear when students will return to Marjory Stoneman Douglas. The school is closed through Wednesday, and officials say they hope to reopen the doors by week’s end.

9-year old Michael Jackson impersonator becomes hit on parade route

Posted: 18 Feb 2018 09:26 AM PST

NEW ORLEANS-- Did you happen to see this 9-year old's fancy footwork on the parade route?   During Mardi Gras, 9-year old, Bay Bishop could be found dancing in the streets to his favorite Michael Jackson songs.

The young dancer loves dancing to Michael Jackson music and even dresses in full Michael Jackson costume with the signature hat and glove.  Bay definitely got the crowd going at the Bacchus parade last Sunday.

His mom said that he learned all the Michael Jackson dance moves from the movie, "This Is It."

As for Bay he said he enjoyed the crowds of parade-goers cheering on him and his Micheal Jackson moves.

"It makes me feel famous," he said.