City honors Natchez businessman with renaming of park, kicks-off Parade of Parks celebration

Published 5:39 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

NATCHEZ — Madison Street Park was renamed Wednesday afternoon the Louis Fry Madison Street Park, after the man who donated the land to develop it in 1932.

Walter Davis, Fry’s grandson, and his wife, Leah, were at the unveiling of the new sign honoring his grandfather Wednesday.

A prominent businessman with a philanthropic spirit, Fry lived from 1881 to 1938.

Email newsletter signup

“At the time, my grandfather owned much of the property along Wall Street,” Davis said. “In 1932, he donated this block to the city so all children would have a place to play.”

Davis also donated the Fry Building to the City of Natchez for the Eola Hotel project.

At the event, Gibson announced the final funds needed for the pre-construction work have been raised, and the work should begin immediately.

“Louis Fry’s vision makes this park dedication a perfect launch for our celebration,” said Ward 1 Alderwoman Valencia Hall, who chairs the city’s Parks and Recreation Committee. “It echoes the city’s vision of parks for all of us.”

The renaming of the park kicked off a city celebration calls Parade of Parks, which marks the completion of an almost $3 million overall renovation of the city’s six parks.

The parade continues on Thursday at 4 p.m. at North Natchez Park, 12 Triumph Lane, and will continue on Nov. 2 at Concord Park, 32 S. Concord Ave., Nov. 16 at Jack Waite Park, 180 St. Catherine St., Nov. 30, at Osceola Park, 204 Choctaw St., and Dec. 14 at Duncan Park, 57 Duncan Park Road.

Park improvements accomplished during the renovation include new playground equipment, signage, renovated bathrooms and grounds and facility improvements.

Also unveiled during the ceremony at Louis Fry Madison Street Park was a new initiative to be known as Friends of the Park, said Ryan Porter, Natchez Parks and Recreation director. “It’s a volunteer group designed to help us encourage participation in and improve our parks. It’s free to sign up, and all we are asking for is your enthusiasm in helping spread the word about our activities and needs for special project volunteers.”

Those interested can sign up at NatchezParks.com or at any of the Parade of Parks ceremonies.

“As a special thanks, friends will be invited as VIP guests at the city’s very first Natchez Friends of the Parks party, where we will share exciting plans and membership perks for 2024,” Porter said. “Here we can enjoy learning how together we can make Natchez Parks and Rec all it can be.”

“This is a major accomplishment for our city,” Gibson said. “This will empower our community and youth for generations to come. So please sign up for our new Natchez Friends of the Parks. We would also love it if your friends, family or organization could volunteer for one of our many ongoing improvement projects. There’s always something that needs sprucing up, events that need staffing, kids that need coaching, and money that needs raising for special projects. And, of course, there is always the fun that comes with planning and working alongside other ‘Friends of the Parks’!”