Torch relay remembers Katrina, unifies Mississippi Gulf Coast

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The music and celebration that greeted relay runners at the foot of the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge Saturday, is a stark contrast to the destruction that covered the area five years ago. Organizers at Hope Community Development Agency say that change is a very good thing.

"We're remembering and respect what we've lost and where we've been, and we certainly all have heavy hearts around this time. But we're celebrating what we've accomplished," said Hope Community Development Agency representative Debi Thomas.

Various runners started the coastal torch relay at opposite ends of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, one group in Waveland and one in Moss Point. They carried two torches across the Mississippi Gulf Coast to remember Katrina, and met in the middle to the sounds of cheers and music to show that the coast is moving on.

"You know you have a lot of hard feelings. Your heart is heavy, but this time it is like you're listening to the second liners in the background, and the big brass band and you know what, we're moving forward," said Thomas.

When the relays met at the Isle Casino, they lit a unity torch to celebrate recovery.

"There's something good that happens every day, something good happens every day. Whether it's big or small," said Biloxi Mayor A. J. Holloway.

"It's not over, we've got a long way to go, but we have a lot of accomplishments," said Thomas.

The Coastal Torch Relay was part of Hope CDA's Phenomenal People, Phenomenal Talent celebration, which is about remembering Katrina through community development.

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