OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Day one of the Spring Pilgrimage was all about welcoming people back, after a six-year hiatus. The theme - "Coming Home."
"It's been two years in the making to get this back, and we've had a wonderful day," said Kathy Cox, president of the Ocean Springs Garden Club. "Beautiful weather. Really nice turn outs; it means a lot to us."
Over the course of a few hours, hundreds of visitors walked up to the Levin home in Bayou Savoulle. They were greeted by colorful blooms, and a tranquil fountain. Once inside, it was open spaces and unique works of art to compliment a beautiful view of the bayou.
"That's what the garden club is about, you know nature and our environment," explained homeowner Sabina Levin. "And this is really open to nature and the environment. And so I figure, let's open it to people too."
Levin enjoys sharing her home. Like so many others, she and her husband were forced to rebuild after the storm.
"I feel so blessed and so lucky that we survived Katrina, and we were able to rebuild our home and live in it very comfortably while other people were not as fortunate. And I thought it would be a nice thing to do to share this with the community," said Levin.
The Gulf Coast Garden Clubs have hosted these "open houses" for nearly six decades, showcasing that unmistakable south Mississippi hospitality. But this year required a lot of extra work to bring the Pilgrimage back after Katrina.
"Well we had to reorganize the Gulf Coast Garden Council, find the old bylaws, try and raise funds," explained Cox. "And so it's been a process, but it's been a really worthwhile event."
The Spring Pilgrimage continues through April 3. Cities across south Mississippi will host a different day. Some public buildings are also included in this year's tour, including the lighthouse, the new Long Beach City Hall, and Beauvoir. All tours are free.