The new Lighthouse Park in downtown Gulfport looks like another picturesque park, but there is symbolism beyond what meets the eye. It begins with the "survival oaks" that withstood Katrina's fury.
"The oak trees on the west side of the park that withstood so much during the storm also represent the resiliency of the South Mississippi people," Hancock Bank Senior Vice President Steven Barnett said.
The sprays of water from the park's fountain represent the surge coming from the Gulf of Mexico. The water shooting from the middle of the fountain and the highest into the air represents the recovery process. About 200 black stones in a concrete walkway pay tribute to those who died in Katrina.
The park is also about rebirth through downtown revitalization.
"Parks are necessary for the livability of a downtown area. Without greenspace and parks, people don't want to live downtown. And it's necessary to get people living downtown for us to get revitalized," said John Harral with Gulfport's Mainstreet Association.
"We wanted this park to be alive, so there's a lot of greenspace. There's a lot of greenery, so the park can be used in many different ways," Barnett said.
The Gulfport Mainstreet Association took advantage of the new space right after the ceremony, to host its first Live After 5 event with music and live entertainment. Those attending said it's just another sign of a community trying to get back to normal.
Upcoming Gulfport Mainstreet Association Events
- Friday, October 5, 2007: Hancock Bank Lighthouse Lunch Break, Featuring Coastal Vibrations and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College - Jeff Davis Singers Saturday,
- October 6, 2007: Annual Fall Around Downtown Arts and Music Festival