A Miracle In The Park For The Bayou View Community In Gulfport

Residents of the Bayou View community say Christmas came early to them Saturday morning.

"It really felt like Christmas this morning when we unloading these trees we were so excited at how beautiful they were," says Linda Ishee with the Miracle in the Park Committee.

This early Christmas gift came in the form of 2500 trees.  Residents are calling it they're little Miracle in the Park. The man who planted the seeds to sprout this so called miracle was coast volunteer Fred Richardson. After seeing what Katrina did to the trees along the coast, he decided to do something to get the coast growing green again.

"He worked with some other growers and got these trees worked out to come down to the coast. The nursery is Rennerwood nursery in Texas and they sent us almost $30,000 worth of trees," says Ishee.

But all this couldn't have taken shape without a plan, that's where the Miracle in the Park committee steps in. The group is made of neighborhood residents all working towards one goal.

"Citizens that live in this neighborhood really want to see this become a beautiful park like they have in big cities and places we can go by and say Gosh why can't we have that. Well we can and that's why we're here," says Andi Rushton with The Miracle In The Park committee.

Today volunteers helped plant about 250 trees. Even Gulfport's mayor got his hands dirty.

"Digging the holes unloading the plants doing a little tractor work it's fun," says Brent Warr, Gulfport mayor.

"This is a park that's going to serve everybody, not just this neighborhood, but the whole community," says Ishee.

And this was a gift the whole community could enjoy.  Everyone who stopped by got to take home some of the trees donated to the community.

"It's not just this ward or a ward in West Gulfport or up toward 6 and 7. It's for everybody," says Jackie Smith, Councilman for Ward 4 in Gulfport.

The restored Bayou View Park will have two sections. One for children that includes plans to build, among other things, a new play area and a pavillion for children's shows or gatherings. The other section will serve the community's large elderly population with features such as a walking track, gazebo, and wildlife sanctuary.

Many local organizations have stepped in to help support the community's cause.  The Bayou View Garden Club donated a canopy of trees to line the entrance of the park.  The Junior Auxillary of Gulfport has also donated $20,000 for the project.  Private donations are also being accepted in addition to other fundraising efforts such selling t-shirts and signs.

Organizers expect work on the park to be complete by next spring.

For more information on how to help out with the "Miracle In The Park" project, you can contact Andi Rushton, co-chair of "Miracle In the Park" committee, at 228-234-4950 or by e-mail.