From the Mayor’s Desk: My heart is full

Published 2:07 pm Sunday, July 9, 2023

My heart is full! Tuesday night, as we celebrated our country’s 247th birthday, we saw Natchez at our best! Our goal, to have a free gathering of our community, from every demographic, enjoying an American Celebration at the Bandstand on our Beautiful Bluff, with music, activities for our children, and of course amazing fireworks, surpassed all expectations!

Thanks so much to Sarah Lindsey Laukhuff and her many sponsors who made our First Annual Live at Five on the Fourth a success! Thanks also to our Star-Spangled Patron, Arden Barnett and Ardenland, who sponsored the entertainment. And an extra special thanks to Sarah Lindsey’s volunteers — too many to name, working behind the scenes to make the evening perfect!

The event was made truly wonderful by the performances of Cha Cha Boo and Emerson Hill — their music was fantastic and drew the most diverse crowd imaginable, all gathered together to enjoy a beautiful and fun evening.

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Thank you also to Tema Larry for her amazing rendition of the National Anthem, to Darrin Parkhill for his beautiful bagpipe playing of “America the Beautiful”, and to Natchez Poet Laureate Galen Mark LaFrancis for his moving poem “The Ghosts of Liberty.”

A highlight I will always remember was our opportunity to honor four remaining World War II Veterans from Natchez: Julius P. Carter, John “Capt. Jack” Kerwin, John Druetta, and Levy Murray. Though they couldn’t attend in person, they were recognized each with resounding applause. Carter Burns was present to receive the certificate honoring his grandfather, and the other certificates will be presented personally to each veteran in the coming days. Mark LaFrancis will be helping to make this happen. As Founder of “Home With Heroes” and Chairman of the “Mayor’s Veterans Task Force,” he does so much and for this I am truly grateful.

Thank you also to city personnel who worked so hard: Richard Burke, Neifa Hardy, Jerry Ford Jr., and Ryan Porter, our interim director of Parks and Recreation, who had so many great activities for our children! Thanks also to the amazing gentlemen in our Public Works Department — without them events like this wouldn’t happen. And officers from our Police Department helped keep everyone safe.

Last but not least, a very special thank you is owed to Sabrina Doré of Shelter Insurance in Vidalia! Her hard work each year, making the fireworks show possible, never goes unnoticed. Without her and her many sponsors, our skies would be dark. And this year, the fireworks show was better than ever!

We live in a beautiful city, The City of Natchez, Mississippi. We should never take for granted the fact that we hit the lottery by being born Americans — and I count it a double lottery being able to live in a community so full of love and kindness as Natchez.

Tuesday night we sang together “God Bless America.” My prayer is that God will continue to bless our country — and our city and our citizens, Because Natchez Deserves More.

Dan M. Gibson is mayor of Natchez.