Holiday heritage tours offered in Miss-Lou

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 9, 2017

NATCHEZ — This Christmas, Natchez natives want to share a little holiday heritage.

Jeremy Houston of Miss-Lou Heritage Group and Tours has paired with local antebellum house owners to produce special holiday tours, events and celebrations.

Each Saturday and Wednesday this month, visitors and locals can take the Heritage-Jewel Christmas tour, which highlights local landmarks of civil rights and African-American history and escorts visitors to The Towers, where owner Ginger Hyland has decked her halls with glittering Christmas jewels.

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Houston’s portion of the tours will focus on the African-American experience around Christmastime, especially for enslaved people.

For some, such as slaves who worked in the field, Christmas was one of the few true recesses from daily labor.

For others, Houston said the Christmas season brought parties, banquets and — for enslaved people — more work.

Tours start at noon and tickets are $45.

Houston said he enjoys partnering with local antebellum houses for tours because he gets to interact with tourists who may not have known about or been interested in the heritage tours before.

And, he said, many of the homeowners are just interesting people.

“People like David Garner or Ginger, they’re all about bringing people to Natchez and telling our story,” Houston said. “I like their passion.”

On Dec. 16, Houston and others will play in a rendition of “John Roy Lynch Family Christmas,” a historical reenactment depicting the family of Mississippi’s first African-American Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives.

Actors in the reenactment will include, Jarita F. King, Randy Minor, Shabilla Adams and Houston.

“(John Roy Lynch) was one of the most important black politicians in his time,” Houston said. “We’re going to bring those characters to life.”

The reenactment will startat 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 in Dunleith Historic Inn and a cash bar available.

Tickets are $50 and include the reenactment, a four-course dinner, non-alcoholic drinks and bread service.

The last holiday heritage event will be a celebration of Kwanzaa, the weeklong celebration that honors African and African-American heritage.

Houston said he has never heard of an organized public celebration of Kwanzaa in Natchez.

“I’ve done it with my family,” he said, “but we had to go to Jackson or New Orleans to celebrate with a group.”

Houston and Beverly Adams will host the event with special guests former Mayor Phillip West and leasing consultant Kimar Cain.

The event will include lighting of the Kwanzaa candles as well as a performance from Jerry Jenkins of Hasan Drums LLC, an African-American drum and cultural arts collaborative.

The Kwanzaa celebration will be at 6 p.m. 199 St. Catherine St. and tickets are $15.