OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Chain saws went to work Monday on the picturesque live oaks in downtown Ocean Springs. But don't worry, none of the trees were cut down. They simply received a much-needed trim for safety's sake.
They closed a portion of Washington Avenue to traffic, fired up the chain saws, and kept the chipping machine busy grinding limbs into mulch.
"The mission is to get ready for Cruisin the Coast and any pedestrians that are walking here. We're going to get all the dead wood that's over the streets, sidewalks and building clearance to cause any problems to anyone," said tree expert Donnie McClain.
The tree trimmers had plenty of eyes watching their work.
"I think they do a good job," said Ernest Broxton, who had a front row seat on the lawn outside the Villa Maria tower.
Like so many Ocean Springs residents, he recognizes the significance of these downtown trees.
"I think they're really important. They look good. Of course, I understand they've got to do this," he said.
Local merchants say the tree canopy helps make this downtown unique. It provides charm year round and comfort on hot summer days.
"People milling around and it's definitely a cool area to walk about and not be in the direct sun. The canopy of oaks, with a breeze, it's nice," said Raymond Oliver, with the Candy Cottage.
Take a close look at the street in this area of downtown and you'll see a series of six to eight inch holes drilled through the street. Donnie McClain says his father, Ken McClain, drilled those holes back in 1980 as a way to inject fertilizer to the oak trees.
But years ago, that fertilizer system was neglected, then perhaps forgotten. The tree expert says, unfortunately, that's taken a toll on these signature oaks.
"There's some work that really needs to be done on these trees downtown. They've been suffering for quite a while. But of course the city's budget is kind of low," he said.
McClain is hopeful the city will find a way to re-establish a regular fertilizer program, to help ensure the long term health of these picturesque downtown trees.