Last minute details readied for Pilgrimage

Published 12:08 am Friday, March 9, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Landscaper Robert Jones uses a leaf blower to clear off the front steps of Twin Oaks Bed and Breakfast Thursday afternoon in preparation for the start of Spring Pilgrimage.

NATCHEZ — Historic house owners and city workers sprung into action this week to primp, preen and polish up the city for the plethora of tourists expected to visit the city for Spring Pilgrimage beginning Saturday.

The Towers owner Ginger Hyland said she and her staff have been busy spring cleaning inside and outside the historic house for its first Spring Pilgrimage.

Hyland said workers have been painting the property’s decorative steel gate and porch steps, gardening and doing minor repair work around the house.

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“And I have personally polished every chandelier we have in this house,” Hyland said.

Hyland said The Towers gift shop has been decorated for Pilgrimage in an Easter and springtime theme, and she said she has been working to get all the shop’s merchandise in and stocked for the busy tourist season.

“It’s our very first Spring Pilgrimage, and we’re really looking forward to it,” she said.

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Natchez Public Works employee Michael Matthews mows the lawn in front of the City Auditorium Thursday morning.

Twin Oaks will be on tour during Spring Pilgrimage for the first time in several years, and owner Regina Charboneau said she and her staff are working nonstop this week to shop for flowers, finish up yard work and decorating, plan menus and prepare food.

“As of Wednesday, we had made 900 biscuits, and Janet (Cabot) did a lot of that, I’m sure she doesn’t want to see another biscuit ever again,” Charboneau joked.

Preparing for Pilgrimage is a big job, Charboneau said, but she said the key is to plan ahead.

“It’s not hard if you prepare ahead of time,” she said. “If I have to get up early and stay up late to finish everything, then I do.”

Charboneau said preparing for Fall Pilgrimage and Spring Pilgrimage does not differ very much.

“Everything still gets cleaned, dusted and polished,” she said. “The oak leaves are somewhat of a pain this time of year, so my groundskeeper, John Taylor, is doing quite a lot of raking.”

All of the hard work is worth it, Charboneau said.

“There is just something about opening your home to someone,” she said. “It’s a wonderful time of year. I hope all the shops and bed-and-breakfasts are busy and it’s a wonderful year for Pilgrimage.”

Natchez City Engineer David Gardner said Natchez Public Works has been mowing grass, picking up litter, cleaning out gutters this week, and he said the City of Natchez is doing its part to ensure the city is spick and span for Spring Pilgrimage.

“This is our time of the year to show the city off,” he said. “We always try to get the town looking really nice and pay special attention to cleaning up.”

Gardner said the city will continue its efforts all through Pilgrimage to keep Natchez pristine for tourists.

“You only get one first impression,” he said. “We try to be most aware of that during springtime when the bulk of our tourists come to town.”