GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The owners of Island View Casino in Gulfport made a donation Monday to a very visible beautification project. They donated two large oak trees that were planted in Preservation Oaks Park along the beach front south of Highway 90.
The City of Gulfport's chief executive said the donation demonstrates what being good neighbors is all about.
Casino co-owner Rick Carter and his partners helped replace some of the greenery that Katrina destroyed. City crews helped plant the pair of 18 foot tall trees. Grown at a nursery in Florida, the live oaks will join the other, much older trees in Preservation Oaks Park.
During a brief ceremony Monday, Gulfport's mayor said this is no ordinary planting project.
"There's only two places in the entire world where oak trees grow to the water's edge: the south shore of France and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Now that's one of our great heritages," Mayor George Schloegel said.
That great heritage was threatened by Katrina, which tossed a barge into the beach front park.
"Unfortunately, Katrina took two of them out. And with your help and your dedication toward rebuilding this part of the coast line, we're getting back to being whole again," said Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver.
Casino owner Rick Carter said it's an honor to donate two majestic trees that are such symbols of strength for south Mississippi.
"We were contacted about losing the two oak trees out here and we didn't hesitate to be involved with this project," Carter said. "It's a good thing for the gulf coast and a good thing for the beach."
Mayor Schloegel said Gulfport is very, very grateful for the corporate donation; a beautification effort that will have lasting impact.
"We're not just planting a tree for ourselves and for our enjoyment. We're planting this for the next generations to come," said the mayor.
Mayor Schloegel said Gulfport is about to launch a citywide tree-planting program that will allow people to donate a tree as a "memorial" to a loved one. Those trees, oaks and magnolias, will then be planted along the boulevards throughout the city.