A celebration of healing kicks off the 5th anniversary of Katrina

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jessica Bowman – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Phenomenal People of South Mississippi are celebrating how far the Gulf Coast has come five years after Katrina. Saturday a kick off festival, Tears to Cheers, was held in Biloxi. South Mississippians gathered to listen to local music artists and enjoy each others company. Event goers said it was a spirit lifting event for many coast residents.

Second Liners dancing in the street kicked off the celebration of healing.

Alice Powell said, "Well it's a blessing were able to come and celebrate five years after Katrina and see family and friends we haven't seen in a while."

Hundreds of people came out to enjoy the free event filled with music and exhibits. Second Liner member Alice Powell said this event really shows the Gulf Coast can recover from anything.

"We just keep praying and staying together as one," said Powell.

During opening ceremonies for the event, local police and their cities were honored for the achievements they have made since Katrina.

HOPE Community Development Agency is just one of many sponsors for the event. Director of the non-profit organization Bill Stallworth said this is a time of celebration for everyone.

"Coming from a period of tears to a period of cheers we have over come, we have done so much, and we are just excited about it," said Bill Stallworth.

Vendors and local organizations set up booths across the street from the Treasure Bay Casino to show their support for the community.

"Something to lift our spirits. Something to say we are together one more time. This is the coast; we won't be defeated. We are better than anyone ever expected us to be," said Stallworth.

During the coastal celebration for everyone who experienced Katrina, Powell said now the tears are in the past, and the future of the Gulf Coast will be full of joy.

"Well it's exciting like I said to see everybody together as one," said Powell.

This is just the beginning of a week long celebration for the fifth anniversary of Katrina. Sunday the Phenomenal People are hosting a talent semi-finals with Linda Machi, Greg Griffin and the Dry Creek Band. WLOX will continue the coverage of the Phenomenal People all week long.

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