Public invited to candlelight vigil, unveiling of memorial

Producers of TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” who have been in Biloxi this week filming community projects for an upcoming prime-time special, are inviting the public to a candlelight vigil Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. on the Biloxi Town Green, where a Hurricane Katrina memorial will be unveiled.

The Emmy-nominated ABC series, with an augience of 15 million viewers each Sunday night, has undertaken three projects during the week of filming in Biloxi. The projects are the Katrina memorial on the Town Green; converting a former office building at Lameuse and Division streets into a family health clinic, and a beach party honoring a U.S. Marine credited with rescuing east Biloxians in the wake of the Aug. 29 storm.

Those attending the candlelight vigil on the Town Green Wednesday will see the unveiling of a memorial that was designed by architect Dennis Cowart of Ocean Springs, constructed by Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport, and includes the work of Coast artist Elizabeth Veglia, who also helped create memorials for Hurricane Camille and the Biloxi Tricentennial.

The monument, which is nestled in a stand of oak trees on the northeast corner of the Town Green, is made of black granite, and stands more than 12 feet tall, matching the height of the storm surge on the Town Green, according to FEMA. A section of the monument will feature glass-encased mementoes donated by dozens of Coast residents over the past couple of days. Also, landscaping and a number of benches will be installed to provide a solemn setting for visitors.

The memorial is being constructed at no cost to the city. Biloxi will be the centerpiece of one of four “Extreme Makeover” specials scheduled to air on a Thursday night in March or April.

“It’s an honor for Biloxi and the Mississippi Gulf Coast to be selected for these community projects,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “There’s been a steady stream of residents visiting the Town Green this week, and there will be even more excitement in a few weeks when the show from Biloxi airs nationwide.

“But the thing to remember is, at the end of the day, once the TV folks and nationwide coverage are long gone, the people of this community will have these positive endeavors for generations to come.”

Note to those attending the Wednesday night vigil: Public parking will be available south of U.S. 90 at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, and in public lots on Lameuse Street, near City Hall.