Feeling negative? Try being tour guide for a day

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 18, 2002

Through the years, I’ve become something of an unofficial tour guide for Natchez.

Of course, I hope the City of Natchez doesn’t begin charging me a fee for my activities.

I’m not like most tour guides. Normally, when I slowly cruise through Natchez, my passenger isn’t paying me anything.

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In fact, usually I’m trying to pay them. You see, I’m on the official newsroom welcoming and recruiting committee.

At first, I sort of stumbled through the effort, running here and there, trying to suddenly remember all of the incredible places that help show off the area.

Now, with probably a dozen such trips under my seat belt, I’ve just about got the routine down pat.

Usually, I start by heading to Natchez Under-the-Hill. Talk a bit about the history, stop and let folks soak in the beauty and expanse of the Mississippi River.

Then we cruise through a zig-zagging course in downtown. We hit some of the antebellum houses, stop into a church or two.

Then, a quick jaunt down Homochitto Street and over to Duncan Park before heading out onto the bypass. My passenger gets a brief tour of Natchez High’s campus and over through the edge of Morgantown and back down Martin Luther King Jr. Road.

Lately, I’ve been showing off the Forks of the Road site, too. Not that what happened at one of the biggest slave markets in the South is something to take pride in, but rather, focusing on the history &045;&045; the real history &045;&045; is important.

Remembering the Forks site is a vital part of our history.

And history &045;&045; both pleasant and unpleasant &045;&045; fills an abundance of my tour-guide spiel.

Along the way, I explain some of the amazing projects the city has accomplished in more recent history. Many of them involve recent building projects and the work to revamp old, vacant buildings to house new functions.

The Natchez Senior Center and the Margaret Martin Performing Arts Center, the bluff stabilization, the Natchez Visitor Reception Center, the convention center, all are part of the tour.

Then we take off and head across to Louisiana, where the riverfront development continues to add to the passenger’s amazement.

All of it is enough to make a visitor’s head spin.

&uot;How in the world does a tiny little city like Natchez do so much?&uot; some ask.

Well, the short answer is: The city officials don’t think like small-town officials. They think &uot;big,&uot; and having the vision to dream a little can make some wonderful things happen.

I have to admit, sometimes the amount of cool, interesting stuff is enough to amaze me. And we’re simply talking about the &uot;stuff&uot; we’ve built, not the true jewels of our area &045;&045; people.

Natchez and the rest of the Miss-Lou are amazing.

Too often, people focus on the negatives around town and focus on what the city and area do not have, rather than what the area does have.

If you hear someone talking negative, give me a call, and I’ll share my area tour itinerary. It’s a sure-fire way to get thinking positive about Natchez again.

Kevin Cooper is editor of The Democrat. He can be reached at 445-3541 or by e-mail to kevin.cooper@natchezdemocrat.com.