WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - The City of Waveland made national news Friday after it was selected as a winner of USA Today and Cable Network Destination America's "Red, White And You" contest. It was one of two cities in the country selected for the grand prize.
The prize is a giant Fourth of July celebration that will be held on Waveland's beach front. The honor all started with a simple essay from a Waveland resident and business owner.
"Waveland was often referred to as ground zero in the days and months following Hurricane Katrina. The storm surge all but leveled the quaint, waterside town. The city hasn't been able to afford a Fourth of July fireworks display ever since," said Donna Estopinal as she read from a colorful piece paper.
It was the words she was reading that helped convince USA Today and the Destination America Network that Waveland residents deserved a huge Fourth of July bash.
"Many people were forced to move away, leaving their dreams behind to start over somewhere else," Estopinal wrote. "Those who stayed were determined to rebuild not just their homes, but our beautiful city as well."
Her essay was one of only two chosen from a field of more than 2,600 entries from across the country.
"I sat down in five minutes and wrote my little essay, e-mailed it off and waited to see what would happen. Little did I know, I would be one of the winners," explained an excited Estopinal.
Estopinal is a long time Waveland resident who manages A&E Electrical Services and Roger's Sports Bar and Grill.
USA Today and Destination America will spend $50,000 on an Independence Day barbecue, live entertainment and a huge fireworks display. The event will be held on the beach near Coleman Avenue.
City leaders couldn't be more excited.
"This is a great ending, I think, to the 10 year anniversary of Katrina," said Mayor Mike Smith.
He said the national exposure the event will bring to his city is priceless.
Smith says the free celebration will be opened to anyone on the Coast. The other city to win the "Red, White And You" contest was Oroville, CA.