Month-long tour through history begins Thursday

Biloxi this week kicks off its annual Thursdays in May series, a month-long celebration of the diverse cultural heritage of the city and a chance for residents and visitors to explore the past at four different venues.

Each Thursday at 5:30 p.m., a notable location in Biloxi will provide the setting for a free program that will help educate visitors and remind locals about the history of the community. The month-long program coincides with National Preservation Month and is organized by the City of Biloxi, Biloxi Bay Chamber, Biloxi Main Street, Biloxi Public Schools, and the Local History & Genealogy Department of the Biloxi Public Library.

This year’s tour begins at Glennan/Guice Memorial Park, near the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, where the program will pay tribute to Keesler Air Force Base’s 70th anniversary, Biloxi’s military heroes and Westergard Boat Works’ role in World War II. Glennan/Guice Park is site of the USS Biloxi mast, the Purple Heart Memorial and other wartime markers. The Biloxi High Jazz Band will perform and on-site exhibits will complement the program. A reception sponsored by the City of Biloxi will be held afterward in the Biloxi Port Division building.

The second Thursday, May 12, is hosted by Beauvoir to update the community about the restored House Museum and Presidential Library, currently under construction. Free House Museum and cemetery tours, and a reception sponsored by the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area will follow the program.

The Thursday, May 19 program in the Dukate Building on Father Ryan Avenue will showcase the photographs and other artifacts collected and catalogued as part of the Biloxi Public School District’s 150th anniversary in 2010. In addition to the exhibits, a 1908 scrapbook created by Central School’s 6th grade class will be on display and students will provide historic re-enactments of several local educators and patrons. Chartwell’s, the school district’s cafeteria manager, is sponsoring the reception that will follow. The first 100 people to arrive will be offered a free copy of the History of the Biloxi Public School District, which was recently reprinted.

May 26’s final “Thursdays in May” program features the West End Hose Co. No 3 Fire Museum, located on Howard Avenue. Biloxi firefighters will provide guided tours and will be available to answer questions about the artifacts and vintage equipment. A reception hosted by the City of Biloxi will follow.

Organizers again this year will offer “Passports Through History” to those who attend multiple stops on the tour. The passports can be stamped on each Thursday, and those with three stamps at the May 26 program will receive a commemorative gift.

“We look forward to organizing and hosting the Thursday programs each May and are always impressed with the community’s participation,” said city Historical Administrator Bill Raymond. “It’s an enjoyable way for us all to learn more about and to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Biloxi.”

Your invitation and schedule: To see your invitation and to print a schedule for Thursdays in May, click here.