BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - The soaking rain didn’t stop an event 200 years in the making.
The Bay St. Louis Bicentennial celebration was supposed to be much bigger, including a parade, tied together with the Second Saturday Artwalk.
For the sake of history, officials weren’t about to let bad weather stop a well-earned birthday party.
Current and former city officials as well as residents gathered at the Hancock Historical Society building to hear the historical portrayals.
“My name is Thomas Shields,” said actor Ron Trop, “and I am humbled that the state legislature has chosen to name this town after me.”
Yes, the city was actually incorporated in 1818 as Shieldsborough, but eventually, said Bicentennial Director Chris Roth, there was a fight.
“We had a lot of French and American settlers here in Bay St. Louis,” he said, “and they were not very appreciative of having an English name for our town.”
It took the will of the people and the leadership of a mayor to make the change.
Benjamin Sones, played by James Keating, was mayor when the city was renamed Bay St. Louis in 1875.
“He was a successful politician, an intelligent, educated prominent man about town,” Keating said. “He dressed very well.”
Other characters included Louise Crawford, played by Beverly Frater. Crawford was a founding member of the city’s Red Cross and the Hancock County Library System.
“A bicentennial is just a very significant way to recognize the history we have here, which is very rich,” Frater said.
A rich history that means a rich future.
“Over our 200-year history, we’ve had a lot of hiccups and disturbances, and the city continues on,” Roth said. “We have a good sense of values here and we appreciate the environment, made a great place to live or vacation, and we want to continue that for the next generation.”
The celebration also included a dedication of the Shieldsborough Historical Marker at the old City Hall.