A cool, gentle breeze blew across the St. Louis Bay, as the ferry made its 8 AM arrival Thursday. These are images Steven Kershaw and Caroline Eagen will remember, as they boarded the ferry for the very last time.
"I'm kind of sad, but excited in other ways," said Our Lady Academy Junior, Caroline Eagen.
"It's just really peaceful," Steven Kershaw said. "I'm sad to see it go, but at the same time, it has done its purpose."
For Kershaw, the ferry service has been a blessing, since Katrina blasted the Bay Bridge. The St. Stanislaus senior no longer had to drive an hour from his home in Long Beach to school in Bay St. Louis. And the 20-minute ferry ride has given him time to do some catching up.
"Like I can do my home work, or I can go to sleep," Kershaw said. "I miss a little bit of extra sleep in the morning."
More than 130 students from St. Stanislaus and dozens from OLA relied on the Bay Bridge for easy access to their schools. In fact, both campuses had to push back the starting times in the morning, to accommodate students who had to travel. So you can understand why everyone is so thrilled so have the bridge back.
"We're deep with our roots on the coast, and reconnecting with that side of the Bay is reconnecting with our family. So it feels good," said St. Stanislaus Principal Paul Verlander.
He added, "We've had members of our family who have had to make a lot of sacrifices for two years now to be here, and they've done it. But to reconnect with the Pass and Long Beach and on is really important for us. It's a sign that we're returning to normal. It will allow those people to reconnect not just in a practical sense, but I think psychologically and spiritually, too."
"I'm really excited because it will cut my time, the travel in half. So it'll be a lot easier," Eagan said.
And Steven Kershaw will have another memory as he gets ready to graduate - crossing the new Bay Bridge.
"I'll be one of the first people to get to do it," Kershaw said. When asked if he was excited, he said "I definitely am. It's something this whole entire town will remember."
The ferry has been shuttling cars between Harrison and Hancock County since last November. Now that the new Bay Bridge is open, the ferry service officially ended Thursday night.
By the way, the 8:30 start times have worked so well, both schools plan to keep that schedule for next year.