Festivals, concerts, memorials to mark Katrina anniversary - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Festivals, concerts, memorials to mark Katrina anniversary

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Trang Pham-Bui – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – "We want this to be a celebration that will bring us all back together," said Bill Stallworth.

Standing before the Katrina Memorial at Biloxi's Town Green Wednesday morning, Stallworth announced huge plans for the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.  His organization, Hope Community Development Agency, is one of many partners behind the coast wide celebration.

"This celebration is more than just a commemoration. It is a celebration of healing.  It's a celebration of all that's been accomplished.  It's showing the Gulf Coast has made it back," said Stallworth.

The festivities lead up to August 29.  It kicks off on August 21 with a "Tears to Cheers" music festival at Treasure Bay Casino and Hotel.

Other events include an awards gala at Hard Rock Casino, and two concerts featuring R&B performers and Rob Thomas at IP Casino, Resort and Spa.  The theme of the events is unity.

"We're having a coast wide run that will unite both ends of the coast. That's going to occur on that Saturday," said Stallworth.   "We've got the 403rd involved and they're going to do a fly over.  It's sort of a symbolic ribbon to tie everybody together.  Boats and the yacht clubs are coming out with the boats and everything."

On Sunday, you can catch the finale of a competition that showcases local talent. There is also a memorial service and a prayer breakfast in Biloxi.

Volunteers from all over the country can take part in a week-long building blitz.  Each city will have a project for volunteers to work on.  The goal is to invite the volunteers to renew their bond with Mississippi and people like James Morgan. He lost his home at Point Cadet and relied on volunteers to rebuild his life.  Morgan said it's fitting that the fifth anniversary of Katrina is being called "Phenomenal People, A Celebration of Healing".

"For this many partners to come together, in a celebration of healing, takes your breath away, and that we can pull together as a community," said Morgan.  "To some people, you can just drive by and look at devastation and empty lots and stuff like that.  For the people that went through it, it's a healing process because everything you had was taken away."

Organizers say the celebration is even more significant because it comes at a time when many minds are focused on another disaster -- the spreading oil leak in the Gulf.

"We're going to get hit time and time again, but it's the spirit of the Gulf Coast that keeps us coming back. That spirit of resilience, that spirit of we will overcome anything they throw at us, that's what we're celebrating," said Stallworth.

Hope CDA is still accepting applications for its Phenomenal People Recognition program.  If you know someone who was "phenomenal" in the wake of Katrina, you can send a nomination to aturner@hopecda.org.  The deadline is July 3.

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