Natchez rolled out the red carpet

Published 12:08 am Friday, March 26, 2010

I would like to thank the City of Natchez and Mayor Jake Middleton sincerely for the time you took to welcome me on my visit a few weeks ago. The hospitality shown was something I truly hope visitors will experience in my city of Selma, Ala.

I look forward to the partnerships that can come of this visit and look forward to working with both the Chamber of Commerce and tourism department in our endeavors to make our Southern hospitality the best it can be.

I am looking forward to learning more about the Southern hospitality training and tour guide program Natchez has been so successful with, thanks to the hard work of Debbie Hudson at the chamber and Connie Taunton in tourism. Thanks also to Kathleen Jenkins of the Natchez National Historic Park for sharing her thoughts over lunch and to Kevin Cooper of The Natchez Democrat for connecting our two groups.

I loved getting to visit with Marsha Colson, manager of Natchez Pilgrimage Tours, and attending the Historic Natchez Pageant. I took a lot of notes and hope to incorporate some into our next pilgrimage event here in Selma. I also took note of the Natchez Visitor Reception Center and how helpful the interactive map, brochures and staff were; you could plan your stay all in one stop with several days worth of things to do and see.

I thoroughly enjoyed Southern Road to Freedom at Holy Family Catholic Church and would love to see a program like that incorporated into our Historic Selma Pilgrimage; I even got on stage with them near the end of the program. It was so much fun and during my stay, by attending these events, I felt that I received the complete story of the history of Natchez.

The people of Natchez all seem to have ownership in their town and have so much pride in it. From our very informative driving tour with Leslie Bruning (who just happened to see Helen Moss Smith, the owner of Texada, who then invited us in to see her house), to being fortunate enough to meet Regina Charboneau, who also invited us to her home for refreshments, and meeting Rene Adams, the owner of Natchez Coffee Co., it is apparent that Natchez pride is abundant.

As I know you are, you should be so very proud of the citizens of Natchez who showed this fellow Southerner, the best in hospitality.

I look forward to our cities growing together and once again appreciate the hospitality extended to me and Selma.

Candace Johnson

tourism director, Selma, Ala.