BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - During the Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour, souls were honored, not feared.
No haunted trails; just precious memories.
For the 12th annual tour, the theme is Biloxi Praise and features seven historic church congregations. With that, visitors came away with a deeper understanding of what truly makes Biloxi what it is.
“And I used to laugh and say it was hard to grow up in Biloxi without being a Catholic," said Biloxi native and Protestant Pat Byrd.
But on this day, he said faith has no category.
“We’re all one religion here in Biloxi, even though we go to different churches or different denominations, because we have one goal and one place in common,” he said. “We all love God.”
Many members of his family are buried here.
“So, we stop by quite often in order to look at the graves and reflect on the past and on the future.”
The history is told through re-enactments with 15 characters.
Actress Tina Johnson is representing Nativity BVM by portraying musician Frances Tedesco Hunt.
And, no real pressure.
“A lot of her family is coming today and on Tuesday to see me,” she said with a smile. “So, I’m hoping that I portray her well.”
Sherwin Moore Taylor is representing First Missionary Baptist Church through long-time member Fannie Nichols.
“Oh, it means so much to recall history,” she said. “It’s like you’re living it all over again. And it was really great to really know the young lady that I’m portraying.”
To add to the culture, two new stops on the tour have been included: Congregation Beth Israel and Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, for which member George Yurchak is portraying member Demitri Leonidas Demetrakopoulos.
He said his church and members are part of Biloxi’s heritage as well.
“Many people don’t know there’s a Greek Orthodox Church on the Coast, and that it’s the only one,” Yurchak said.
The event gives newer residents a better sense of where they live.
“I’m not originally from this area so, it’s great learning the history of this local area,” said resident Melanie Hawley. “This year, with it being Sunday, it’s great that this is a church day, our Lord’s day.”
The tour will be repeated from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted.