WARM WELCOME: American Serenade christening celebration begins noon Sunday on Vidalia riverfront

Published 3:11 pm Friday, April 21, 2023

VIDALIA, La. — In August 2022, American Cruise Lines christened what was then its newest ship, the American Symphony in Natchez and named the city the ship’s official Godmother City.

Not to be outdone, Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft is welcoming American Cruise Lines to its riverfront on Sunday, where the cruise company’s newest vessel, the American Serenade, will be christened.

U.S Rep. Julia Letlow, R-Start, the first woman to represent Louisiana district in Congress in 30 years, will become the ship’s Godmother.

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Craft has been busy making certain the Vidalia riverfront looks its best for Sunday’s event.

“American Cruise Lines built the ramp. They were originally going to put in a dock, but the barge association and the Coast Guard determines it would be too far out in the channel for that, so they had to go with a ramp, which is fine,” Craft said.

The city has repainted the riverfront from the Clarion Inn and done some pressure washing and hanging of murals, he said.

“We haven’t finished the sidewalks or the bus ramps, but will finish those things up soon,” Craft said.

Music on the riverfront will begin at 11:30 a.m. and the official christening begins at noon.

Craft, as well as Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson will speak, as well Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser and American Cruise Lines President and CEO Charles B. Robertson.

Robertson will introduce Letlow.

“We are so proud of the work she is doing in Congress,” Craft said. “She is the person who came up with the Parents Bill of Rights, and she will have her two daughters with her.”

After the speakers, invited guests will aboard the Serenade and head upstairs for the christening. Others will continue to enjoy food and music on the riverfront.

“Don’t eat before you get here,” Craft said. “We have some great food vendors who will be here.”

Those food vendors include:

• Wilkinson’s One Stop offering fried shrimp and catfish, Cajun gumbo, etouffee and jambalaya, as well as pulled pork.

• Tikiz River Cities offering shaved ice, ice cream, coffee, hot chocolate and tea.

• Kenny D’s offering popcorn and kettle corn.

• Chef Tamara’s Kitchen offering Cajun chicken and sausage pasta, wings, chili dogs, nacho cheese, fries, soda and water.

• Cheryl Bowman offering desserts, coffee, beignets and egg rolls

• Coconut Bar and Grill offering meat treats, lemonade and infused water.

“I think it is really, really neat for Natchez to have their ship and Vidalia will have our ship. It’s great for our communities as a whole for American Cruise Lines to choose us to the mother town of two in their fleet,” Craft said.