PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Walmart's grand opening celebration moved inside due to rain, but the weather didn't stop hundreds of people showing up to welcome the store back to Pass Christian.
"How are y'all doing this morning? Fired up," Walmart Market Manager Brian Thomas asked the store's associates. "I tell you what; I am fired up also this morning."
The energy was electric as employees rallied around store managers.
Ashley Edwards with Governor Barbour's Office of Recovery and Renewal was among those celebrating the big day.
"I would argue that perhaps there's never been a city where Walmart was so important as it is here in Pass Christian today," Edwards said.
Store Manager Rob Richardson agrees.
"I recognized real quickly the importance of what we were doing here in Pass Christian," Richardson told the crowd. "I saw associates to interview to come back for their positions and there were many tears that were shed."
But Wednesday, those tears were gone, and now it's all smiles for the 300 associates ready to greet customers.
Mayor Chipper McDermont is also smiling, because he knows his city is about to get its tax base back.
"We're a small town and we basically run our taxes off ad valorem, and Walmart has always been the biggest generator. So we anticipate the same thing," Mayor McDermott said.
During the grand opening celebration, Walmart officials gave out more than $10,000 in donations to Pass Christian High School, Long Beach High School, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.