Natchez police welcome visitors unusually

Published 12:24 am Thursday, May 15, 2008

NATCHEZ — First-time visitors to Natchez were shocked when they were pulled over by police Wednesday.

But Police Chief Mike Mullins didn’t issue the guests a ticket. He handed them a gift basket.

For almost a decade now, the Natchez Convention and Visitors Bureau has paired with the Natchez Police Department to welcome tourists in a not so typical way.

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As a part of National Tourism Week, Police Chief Mike Mullins, Alderman Bob Pollard and city supervisor for the visitors center Rebecca Pace were the ones to surprise and welcome some unsuspecting tourists Wednesday morning.

Tony and Nancy Trautman were pulling out of the Visitor Reception Center when Mullins hit the blue lights and siren.

Tony timidly rolled down his window as the three ran up with smiles and a gift basket.

“I asked Nancy if she was wearing her seat belt,” Trautman said laughing.

The couple, which came from Ofallon, Mo., was on their way from Houston to Vicksburg when they decided to stop in Natchez.

Nancy said they wanted to see the river and some of the antebellum homes.

Included in the gift basket were tickets for a house tour, a site seeing tour, a carriage ride and a free lunch for two at Pearl Street Pasta.

The couple was so overwhelmed by what had happened, they were considering a change of plans.

“We were just going to be here for the day but we might have to stay the night,” Nancy said.

Nancy also said so far they were very impressed with what they had to see.

“This is the best tourist center we’ve seen,” she said.

Pace said this is something the visitor’s center has been doing for years, and they always have fun with it.

She recalled a story from two years ago, when they spotted a New York license plate and pulled them over.

Turns out, the people in the car were German and not so fluent.

“They couldn’t speak a word of English,” Pace said.

In the confusion and the language barrier, the tourists got upset, but finally they calmed down when they realized what was happening.

“Then they just had a good old time,” Pace said.

Pace said it’s not only enjoyable to surprise and welcome tourists in such a different way, but it’s also good public relations for the city.