Hundreds show up to beautify Bay St. Louis

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The Keep America Beautiful organization is no stranger to South Mississippi. For six years now, the group has hosted a Great American Cleanup event featuring a different local city every year.

This year's spotlight was on Bay St. Louis where around 500 volunteers showed up Saturday.

Keep America Beautiful Senior Vice President Gail Cunningham began the day by pumping up the crowd. She made them repeat after her, "We are getting better every day, come on back to Bay St. Louis."

The volunteers then split up to seven different locations to clean up parks, playgrounds and public streets. This event was the single largest project in Bay St. Louis dedicated to beautification since Katrina.

"By the end of the day, it's going to be a more beautiful city than it already is," Cunningham said.

But she explained it's not just about beauty, "It improves the quality of life, and especially in this day and age the economic vitality and we know it will help make people come back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

That's exactly what the mayor hopes the makeover will do.

"We have such a natural beauty in Bay St. Louis to build on," Mayor Les Fillingame said. "And everything we can do to enhance that beauty just brings the community a little closer to where we want to be."

And the outpouring of helping hands makes one thing loud and clear.

"They really love where they live," Cunningham said.

Mayor Fillingame said it's no surprise, "Pride is a disease in Bay St. Louis and all you have to do is say the word and people come. Honestly, it is very humbling and it makes me very proud to serve a community that comes out in such support."

The volunteers weren't just limited to Hancock County, some showed up from more than a thousand miles away to make the cleanup project a reality.

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