City readies for start of Spring Pilgrimage

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 7, 2001

Since beginning in 1932, Spring Pilgrimage has become more than a chance to show off Natchez’s unique history to the rest of the world. The annual event that begins Wednesday is big business for the local economy.

John Saleeby, director of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, said he expects between 28,000 and 32,000 people to visit Natchez during the next month for Pilgrimage.

At least 200 buses are scheduled to shuttle guests between the 31 houses on tour this year, 23 of which are only open to the public during Pilgrimage, he said.

Then there are the paddlewheel boats, the American Queen, the Mississippi Queen and the Delta Queen, each of which will stop Under-the-Hill once a week during Pilgrimage.

And the city’s own tour buses will run shuttles daily, once in the morning and again in the afternoon.

Not including boat sales, Saleeby said at least 7,000 advance tickets have been sold, a number that rises every day.

And yet advance group bookings make up only about one-third of total Pilgrimage sales, Saleeby said.