Lessons learned from tricentennial

Published 12:01 am Thursday, June 21, 2018

For the City of Natchez, its tricentennial celebration turned out differently than initially imagined, but it was ultimately better, and we should never forget why.

Initially, Natchez’s 300th birthday celebration in 2016 was to be a yearlong celebration with millions of dollars in sponsorships from outside sources.

As it turned out, the millions of dollars of sponsorship never came.

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Even still, the hard work and imagination of organizers and community members helped attract tourists from all of the world. Tax numbers show that more than 10,000 hotel rooms were booked than the year before — a small, but important, boost for our tourist economy.

But the big story of 2016 was less about tourism than about the people who call this special place home.

The tricentennial may not have brought in millions of outside promotional dollars, but it brought the citizens of Natchez together in ways many thought impossible.

We learned about our history. We learned about our commonalities, and most important, we learned that we succeed when we work together.

This week, as the City of Natchez officially sealed up mementos from the celebration in a handcrafted time capsule to be opened on the city’s 400th birthday in 2116, let us all pause to remember the best things about the tricentennial.

The same spirit that made the Natchez Tricentennial memorable can make and will make the next 100 years even more successful, as long as we continue to work together to make the city a better, peaceful and more prosperous place to live.

Doing that will bring more outsiders to the city — something that is important to our tourism economy.

But in the end, we should heed the lessons of 2016 and improve Natchez not for others, but for ourselves and the future of this great community.