1699 Weekend of Discovery: Celebrating Our Heritage

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Ocean Springs – In 1971, a group of dedicated citizens formed the 1699 Historical Society in order to preserve and celebrate the unique culture and history of Ocean Springs and the surrounding Gulf Coast.

Every spring, the Society stages a dramatic reenactment as the showcase of its annual “Weekend of Discovery.” The event brings to life the April 1699 story of Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville and his armada of ships sailing into Biloxi Bay. Commissioned by King Louis XIV to explore the shores of the upper Gulf of Mexico, he and his expedition crew first discovered Ship Island before stumbling upon a high, defendable bluff, known today as Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Stopher Haug, chairman of the event this year, believes it’s important to help the public realize the significance of the landing. “I think that the culture and the heritage and influence that the d’Iberville landing had on the Gulf South in 1699 is essentially equivalent to the Jamestown landing in the Northeast back in 1603,” said Stopher. “So we’ve worked hard to try to get that message out and bring the history to life.”

The weekend kicks off Friday night with the Mary C. House Party featuring the Mardi Gras Indian Collective from New Orleans. Admission to the event is free, but donation opportunities abound with a full bar, art auction, and a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament. Festivities resume Saturday morning and include a 5K race, kids fun-run, paddleboard races, pet parade, a regatta at the Ocean Springs Yacht Club and will wrap up with the 1699 d’Iberville reenactment. Haug says he hopes everyone goes back home having had a great time at the event, but also with a greater knowledge and appreciation for the significance of the 1699 landing. “One thing that we would like folks to be aware of is that we’ve partnered with the Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw, who descend from original native Americans that were here in 1699. We’ve been working with them to try and bring more authenticity and historical accuracy to the reenactment this year and to recognize their culture and contributions as well.”

Everyone is invited to join in this exciting time and become a part of this commemorative celebration!

Learn more by visiting www.1699landing.com

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Vote for Ocean Springs as US Today’s 10 Best Coastal Small Town

Ocean Springs, MS – Ocean Springs is up for another award, USA Today’s Best Coastal Small Town. As the only town in Mississippi up for the award, the community is encouraged to vote for Ocean Springs now through May 14.

With a population of fewer than 25,000 people, these towns nominated offer uncrowded, unpretentious and affordable seaside fun in small packages. Move over Miami, Honolulu and Los Angeles, Ocean Springs is in the running.

“With its quaint, eclectic charm, we are delighted to have Ocean Springs nominated once again for this award,” says Executive Director Cynthia Sutton of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. “Ocean Springs is a tourist favorite and, we encourage our entire coastal community and those throughout the state to promote Ocean Springs for this award.”

Vote for Ocean Springs once per day as Best Coastal Small Town until polls close on May 14 at noon, ET. Visit https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-coastalsmall-town/ to vote.

For more information, contact us at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau at 228-875-4424 or visit us at www.oceanspringschamber.com.

Mission: To promote tourism, provide progressive leadership for economic and community vitality for the greater Ocean Springs, Jackson County area and gulf coast and to enhance local culture and preserve quality of life through planned growth, diversification and beautification.

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Keynote Speaker Announced for Explosion of Excellence

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This year’s 28th Annual Explosion of Excellence will be held in May at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jackson County Campus.  This year’s Keynote Speaker is Dr. Kimberly Cox Rasmussen.  This scholarship program honors the academic achievements of the graduating high school seniors who are in the top ten percent of their classes in all area high schools in Jackson County (including the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science).

Dr. Rasmussen is the Grants Bureau Director at the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and has previously worked at The University of Southern Mississippi, The Bacot McCarty Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management, Federal Investigative Services Division.  Dr. Rasmussen holds a Bachelors in International Studies and a Masters in Criminal Justice, both from The University of Southern Mississippi.  She has also attended the Goethe Institut and Viennese Center for Middle Eastern Studies, both for German language study.  She holds a doctorate in International Law/Criminal Justice from the University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria), where she focused her dissertation on substance abuse treatment among the incarcerated population.

 

 

Dr. Rasmussen is active in her community where she serves on numerous boards and participates in many volunteer organizations.  She serves as President of the Junior Auxiliary of Gulfport, Chair of the Gulf Coast Centurions Association and is a member of the Salute to the Military Dinner Planning Committee.  She is a graduate of Leadership Jackson County and previously served as a Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Ambassador.  In addition to her professional and civic responsibilities, Dr. Rasmussen enjoys singing the National Anthem at various community events.  Dr. Rasmussen is a 2000 graduate of Gautier High School and a former Explosion of Excellence scholarship recipient.  She currently resides in Gautier with her husband, Ric, and their two daughters, Julep and Iris.

The Explosion of Excellence is a program jointly sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and all high schools in Jackson County.  It is a fund of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.  The Chairman of this year’s Explosion of Excellence is Pat Descher of the McDonald’s Descher Organization, and the Co-Chairman is Dr. Bill Descher.

The public is encouraged to consider a $250, $1,000 or $5,000 scholarship.  These scholarships are donated by the public to encourage these students to consider employment in Jackson County when their education is finished.  The scholarships can be made in memory or in honor of someone, in the name of a company or individual or left anonymous.  The public can help honor these students by writing a check to the “Gulf Coast Community Foundation/Explosion of Excellence” and mailing it to “Explosion of Excellence, Post Office Box 480, Pascagoula, MS  39568-0480.”

To answer any questions, please call the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce at 228-762-3391 or email Valerie Dedeaux, Administrative Assistant, at Chamber@jcchamber.com.

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Celebrate Earth Day at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center

Earth Day, celebrated in the United States since April 22, 1970 , is this weekend. With spring temperatures in the 70s  along the Coast, it’s the perfect time to get outside and learn about the natural world.

The Pascagoula River Audubon Center will be hosting an Earth Day Family Celebration from 10 a.m. til 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 21st. Admission is only $1 for members and $2 for non-members, so this is a great opportunity to visit the Center.

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Earth Day activities include: crafts, kayaking, a scavenger hunt, planting activities, a “sidewalk sale” in the gift shop, live animals, food vendors, and more. There will be tie dyeing, so bring a shirt to dye or purchase one in the store. Visiting groups include Wild at Heart Rescue with some of their education animals and the Jackson County Master Gardeners will be conducting Green House tours and talking about native plants.

Earth Day at the Pascagoula River Audubon Center is great for kids of all ages, from toddler activities in the Children’s Nature Discovery Garden to kayaking for older students. Come on out and celebrate!

 

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Donate Stuffed Animals Friday in Ocean Springs

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The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA has partnered with Jackson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Inc. to collect toys for children who have been adopted from the local foster care system. CASA will be collecting large stuffed animals from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Blossman Family Branch YMCA on Friday, April 20.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and YMCAs across the country are participating in Five Days of Action from April 16 to 20 to raise awareness about how to prevent child sexual abuse. The local five-day awareness event concludes Friday with the toy drive.

“April is a perfect time to share with our community what everyday citizens can do to help,” said Frances L. Allsup, executive director of CASA, an agency of United Way for Jackson & George Counties. “The number of children in Jackson County coming into care continues to grow and we aim to meet that need. Every child deserves the support of a caring, consistent, trained adult to help them find a safe, loving home where they can heal and thrive.”

 

 

Allsup continued that they collect stuffed animals as a way to help these children simply be children and to provide them comfort with something familiar, such as a teddy bear. The stuffed animals and toys collected will go to the children that CASA serves.

Theresa Haynes, youth services director for the Blossman Family YMCA, said that they have a goal in mind for the number of stuffed animals they hope to collect during Friday’s event. “We would be very happy if we could get 100,” she said.

The Youth Services Department has displayed child abuse prevention boards at the Blossman Family YMCA this week during the Five Days of Action. Throughout the month of April, CASA is calling on members of the community to help their program serve more of Jackson County’s most vulnerable children.

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Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA Wants Kids to “Charge into Summer” During Annual Healthy Kids Day®

Event encourages kids to stay active and keep learning all summer long.

On Saturday, April 28, the Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA is holding a community event in conjunction with the Junior Auxiliary of Biloxi/Ocean Springs to inspire more kids to keep their minds and bodies active at the annual YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day®, the Y’s national initiative to improve health and well-being for kids and families. The day will consist of a 5K Run starting at 8:00am, and a FREE 1-Mile Fun Run for children ages 12 and under starting at 8:45am. The cost for the 5K is $16 for Gulf Coast Running Club members and $17 for the general public (non-running club members).

YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, celebrated at over 1,600 Ys across the country by over 1.2 million participants, works to get more kids moving and learning, creating habits that they continue all summer long. When kids are out of school, they can face hurdles that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Research shows that without access to out-of-school learning activities, kids fall behind academically – this summer learning loss is more pronounced among students from low-income families. Kids also gain weight twice as fast during summer than the school year. As spring turns to summer, Healthy Kids Day is a powerful reminder not to let children idle away their summer days. Instead, the Y wants families to focus on “charging” kids up with enthusiasm for themselves and their potential.

“When a child is healthy, happy, motivated, and excited something amazing is inevitably going to result,” said Joey Conwill, Wellness Director, Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA. “We see the potential of all children, and we strive to help kids find that potential within themselves. A child’s development is never on vacation and Healthy Kids Day is a great opportunity to educate families and motivate kids to stay active in spirit, mind and body throughout the summer,” said Jodi Ryder, Community Impact Director, Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA.

In celebration of YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day, the Y offers the following tips to help families develop healthy habits:

• High Five the Fruits and Veggies – Make sure kids get at least five servings a day, the minimum number nutritionists recommend to maintain healthy childhood
• development. And to keep kids’ taste buds evolving, have everyone in the family try at least one bite of a new fruit or vegetable at least once a month.
• Foster an Early and Ongoing Passion for Books – Read to and with your kids. Help children read at every age and every stage of their development.
• Team Up for Athletic Events – Set a family goal of great health by teaming up for community or charity events like races, walks, fun runs, bike rides, etc.
• Volunteer Together – Find a cause that matters to the kids. Open their eyes to a world beyond themselves and the rich rewards that come from making a difference.
• Make sleep a priority – Doctors recommend 10-12 hours of sleep a day for children ages 5-12 and 7-8 hours per night for adults. Sleep plays a critical role in maintaining our healthy immune system, metabolism, mood, memory, learning and other vital functions.

The Mississippi Gulf Coast YMCA’s Healthy Kids Day takes place at Fort Maurepas from 8:00am-11:00am and features fun, active play, and educational activities.

All kids deserve the best summer ever, and Delta is proud to be the national sponsor of Healthy Kids Day, which kicks off a healthy, active, and engaged summer for kids throughout the country.

For more information, contact Joey Conwill, Wellness Coordinator, at 228.875.5050 or jconwill@mgcymca.org; or contact Jodi Ryder, Community Impact Director, at 228.875.5050 or jryder@mgcymca.org.

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Hoops 4 Hope Set for Saturday, April 21, 2018

Boys and girls ages 12-18 are invited to come to the Pascagoula Recreation Department this Saturday, April 21, to play basketball in the free Hoops 4 Hope event. Members of the Pascagoula High School Panthers and Lady Panthers basketball teams will serve as coaches and referees. The students will play on teams alongside the Pascagoula Police Deparment, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department and the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Breakfast begins at 8 a.m. followed by the drafting of the teams at 9 a.m. with games to begin at 10 a.m. A free hamburger and hot dog cookout will be held at noon. The event is open free to Pascagoula residents. Boys and girls ages 5-11 are welcome to attend to assist with the event.

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Take a Boat Ride During Gautier’s Earth Day Event Saturday

The City of Gautier will host its annual Earth Day Celebration this Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at George Martin City Park.

Eco-Tours of South Mississippi will be providing free boat rides on the Pascagoula River during the City of Gautier Earth Day event at George Martin City Park on Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

During the event, Captain Kathy Wilkinson, owner of Eco-Tours of South Mississippi, will offer free 30-minute rides up the Mary Walker Bayou. They have been part of the event since opening Eco-Tours in 2006. The boat rides are popular during the Earth Day event and give families that may not have the opportunity to get out on the water a chance to do so.

“We do not charge for the event as it is our way of giving a little something back to our community,” Wilkinson said. “We enjoy the opportunity to take locals out, as most of our guests on our tours are from out-of-town.”

The tours during the event are shortened versions of the tours Wilkinson regularly gives. According to Wilkinson, they tell guests about the flora and fauna they see, the ecosystems, local history and culture, wetlands and conservation, and stewardship and volunteerism while enjoying the views along the way.

“While it is educational, it is also fun, and we see some pretty cool things out on the river,” she said. “We started the business because we are passionate about the river and thought people might be interested in learning about the Pascagoula River. We have taken out visitors from all over the world, in addition to locals.”

For more information, you can visit www.ecotoursofsouthmississippi.com or visit the Eco-Tours of South Mississippi Facebook page.

 

 

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Spring Migration in Full Swing Along the Coast

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Have you noticed an influx of bright blue birds at your bird feeders over the last week? Is your seed disappearing at a faster rate than usual? Does a chorus of bird song wake you early in the morning?

Spring migration is upon us, and birds such as the Indigo Bunting, Rose Breasted Grosbeak, and a wide variety of vividly-colored warblers are arriving from their winter homes in the tropical regions of Central and South America. Most of them will stay a few days to refuel after traveling across the Gulf; consuming seeds, fruit, insects, and anything that they can find before continuing north to their summer breeding territories in the northern United States and Canada.

 

This year has had weather conditions conducive to a “fall out” where exhausted and hungry migrating birds hit bad weather and drop onto the nearest land that they encounter, frequently barrier islands or coastal shorelines. If you see tiny songbirds resting on the sand or boardwalks, you can guess that they just finished a long distance flight across the Gulf and are simply too tired to move.

Over the next few weeks, birds will continue arrive with southern winds, heading to all points north. The Pascagoula River Basin is home to more than 320 species of birds during the year, many of whom only visit for a few critical weeks during their spring and fall long distance journeys.

Our resident birds, birds that spend the year along the Gulf, are already well into their breeding season. You may see osprey and eagles carrying nest material or food, fuzzy Great Horned Owl chicks practicing their first flights, or have a brood of Eastern Bluebirds or Carolina Wrens chirping inside a bird box.

To attract and enjoy more backyard birds, there are a few simple things that you can do.

  1. Create a feeding station with seed feeders that contain black oil seed (sunflower or safflower seed) and thistle or niger seed
  2. Scatter mixed seed (with millet and other seeds) on the ground beneath feeders
  3. Add hummingbird feeders with sugar water (4 parts water, 1 part sugar, no food coloring added)
  4. Give them a shallow bird bath for water and for them to clean their feathers after their long flights
  5. Plant native flowers, shrubs, trees, and vines that provide both food and shelter
  6. Reduce the potential for collision with your windows by adding bird tape, streamers, or partially closing blinds to break up the impression of open space to birds in flight
  7. Keep cats indoors or (at  a minimum) add bells to their collars
  8. Add a nest box with a predator guard installed to help cavity nesting birds
  9. Enjoy watching your colorful feathered visitors and appreciate your ability to observe one of nature’s most fascinating phenomena – spring migration!
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Fundraiser to benefit MGCCC Jackson County Campus food pantry

On Saturday, April 28, the Largest Pulled Pork Serving will offer dinner plates to raise funds for Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s #DOMORE Pantry, a food pantry for students and employees at the college’s Jackson County Campus.  Dinner plates can be purchased for $10.

The event, part of a Guinness World Book of Records competition, will be held from noon until 7 p.m. at Wilde’s Tavern in Ocean Springs.  There will also be a pork-eating contest, live music, raffles and an auction.  Portions of the proceeds from the meals will fund the food pantry, along with other nonprofit organizations.

Sponsors include Pleasant’s BBQ, Overtime Sports, Wilde’s Tavern, Southern Event and Party, Shepherds of the Gulf, #DOMORE Pantry, and Smithfield Foods.

For more information about purchasing dinner plates, contact Carin Platt, 228-497-7820, carin.platt@mgccc.edu.

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