HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Bay-Waveland Garden Club will roll out the welcome mat Saturday for visitors who want to check-out the post Katrina recovery progress in Hancock County.
The 74th annual Spring Pilgrimage Tour is expected to attract visitors from all over the region and give the county an economic boost.
A historic church bell made in the late 1800s will be one of the highlights of this year's tour of homes. The bell came from the Bayou LaCroix church which had to come down when NASA moved into the area. The bell now sits in Mittie Smith's back yard.
"Monsignor Hannon climbed up into the steeple with Bully to get that bell down. And Bully always thought that NASA would turn loose some of the land and we'd go back and they would build another church out there and the bell was going to go back up there. Of course, it didn't happen," said Bay St. Louis homeowner Mittie Smith.
The historic church bell is just some of what visitors will see at the Smith's place.
"It's just a grand, grand place. She has a play room upstairs, gorgeous furniture. I think it's something that you definitely don't want to miss," said Danna Piazza, member of the Bay-Waveland Garden Club.
The tour will also take tourists to properties on the waterfront, from Beach Boulevard in Waveland to the Jourdan River.
The President of the Bay-Waveland Garden Club, Lana Noonan, said, "It's a complimentary tour, for one thing. We are one of the few organizations that give a complimentary tour. It is our service project to the community to promote Bay St. Louis, Waveland, Hancock County."
The event is expected to attract 200 to 300 people: visitors who will likely spend money while in town.
"It means a lot for the restaurants, the local artists, the local shops," said Noonan.
Guests can pick up a map at the Waveland Civic Center on Coleman Avenue. The tour starts Saturday at noon and will last until 4pm.