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Natchez celebrates Crepe Myrtles Summer 2020 with self-guided tours

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez is again celebrating the blooming season of Crepe Myrtles that are flush with color this time of year.

Natchez has approximately 10,000 trees and counting that visitors and locals alike can view using free, self-guided tours that are now available online at VisitNatchez.Org/Events, the “Natchez Celebrates the Blooms” event page on Facebook and at some area businesses, organizers said.

The Natchez International Crepe Myrtle Festival Committee sponsored by Visit Natchez developed the maps.

The first Crepe Myrtle event was hosted in 2019 and drew visitors from neighboring states, organizers said.

“The extraordinary Crepe Myrtle blooms of Natchez are worth celebrating,” said Peter Patout, Natchez International Crepe Myrtle Festival founder and historic property relator. “While there’s not a festival with speakers this year, our Crepe Myrtle Historian Elaine Gemmell and our committee members have created a perfect Natchez Celebrates the Blooms experience.”

Patout said local officials have assured organizers of the festival that Natchez is still open to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic and the walking and driving tours of the Crepe Myrtles provide a low contact form of outdoor entertainment.

“We believe this self-guided tour approach offers visitors a highly enjoyable way to explore Natchez and respect the need for low-contact forms of entertainment. We encourage visitors to observe social distancing and to please be respectful by wearing a mask when entering businesses,” Patout said.

Three different Crepe Myrtle trails are marked for the 2020 blooming season through the month of July.

The “Crepe Myrtle Sip & See Stroll” tour takes viewers through a downtown walking trail that features the largest concentration of Crepe Myrtles in the city and opportunities to stop for refreshments.

The “Bloom Drive” trail takes viewers beyond downtown to witness the blooms in the gardens surrounding Monmouth, Stanton Hall, Auburn, around Duncan Park and along Melrose Avenue.

A third tour around the historic Natchez City Cemetery established in 1822 allows viewers to drive or walk and see over 490 Crepe Myrtles amidst the mature landscape with an overlook of the city.

This year’s event can be followed on social media as participants tag their photos with #NatchezCelebratestheBlooms.

“Of course, mother nature didn’t get the COVID memo,” Adams County Master Gardener and Festival Committee member Rita Tebbetts said, adding she expects to still see the blooms possibly into August.

“Come to Natchez to take in the show,” Tebbetts said. “The beauties won’t mind a bit if you want to snap a few photos to share with friends; you’ll need evidence anyway to prove to doubters what you will witness. The best photos are probably done from a distance, but these trees won’t mind if you want to move in close. I don’t think they will be taking social distancing too seriously.”

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