Location: Pascagoula, Miss.
Assets: $275 million
No. of employees: 54
President and CEO: Weldon Perkins

As children, Richard Perkins and Sam Stauter watched the annual Mardi Gras parade in Pascagoula, Miss., from the front steps of First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Pascagoula-Moss Point.

First Federal allowed employees, and their families and friends, to park in the thrift's lot and throw an informal party as the floats rolled by.

The thrift, founded in 1955, has a tradition of bringing employees together around food. Mardi Gras is no exception.

Perkins and Stauter, now in their mid-20s and First Federal employees, had the idea to create a more formal event to coincide with the parade, so they approached bank executives, who said yes.

First Federal's first official Mardi Gras party was held in 2013, says Stauter, a customer service representative. The thrift provided all the food and drink, while Perkins and Stauter secured a commercial smoker, which they used to cook sausage, wings, hot dogs and pork tenderloin.

"When the idea was first mentioned to management, I think Richard and I both were a little surprised that they trusted two young guys to plan the event," says Stauter. "That's not to say they didn't have a watchful eye on what we were planning, but they showed a lot of faith in the younger generation."

First Federal operates six branches in Jackson County, Miss.

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