This month - Making history come alive with the Battle of Bay St. Louis reenactment on December 13th.
These Biloxi Schooners owned by the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum will be in the Bay St. Louis Harbor on December 13th. Photo by Alex North
If you live in Bay St. Louis, it turns out that having a
pirate’s costume in your closet is as indispensible as having a Sunday suit or
a little black dress.In November,Pirate Day in the Bay and the Arts benefit
ball later that evening had hundreds of people donning buccaneer garb and eye
patches.And on the second weekend of
December, the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bay St. Louis
features a full slate of events, all where costume attire is requested.
Of course, pirates didn’t even have anything to do with the original Battle of
Bay St. Louis.But the year was 1814 and
buccaneer types abounded in the area.In
fact, legend has it that Jean Lafitte had a house on the beach near the
BSL/Waveland line.And pirates costumes
happen to be easily accessible and fun to wear.Other period costumes from the early 1800’s will
have you strutting in style during all the events surrounding the
Saturday, December 12
On Friday afternoon, December 12th, two Biloxi Schooners
will sail into the Bay St. Louis harbor.Tours will be available starting at 1:3opm and 3:30pm on Friday, 10am and noon on Saturday. They last about 1 1/2hours and cost $15
(which goes to the Maritime Museum). You actually go out for
a short sail.These boats will be used
in the reenactment on Saturday.
On Friday evening, the Inspection Ball takes place at the Bay St. Louis Community Center (301 Blaize Ave).The ball (yet another opportunity to dress in your interesting period outfit!) takes place from 5:30 - 11pm. Tickets cost $25 for members and $35 for non-members. There’ll be food and beverage and major comradery as the names of the 2015 king and queen of the Krewe of Seahorse Mardi Gras Parade are announced. Live music by Doctor Rock and the Interns will keep the dance floor full.
Saturday, December 13
The day casts off with a 7k run/walk at 9am ($20 in advance, $25 day of race, includes t-shirt) and a 1k run/walk ($15/$20, t-shirt included) at 10am.This will be the first 7k race ever held in Bay St. Louis.Winners will be announced on the stage at Beach and Main Street sometime around 10am.There will be prizes for “best dressed” too!Click here to register online.
During the day, the schooners will be open for touringat 10:00am and 12:00pm. They last about 1 1/2hours and cost $15 (which goes to the Maritime Museum). You actually go out for a short sail. There’ll also be a Veteran’s Parade, speeches (2pm at the stage at Beach and Main) and a special display of history projects by students of Bay Middle School (see their video below!).
10AM, a fascinating exhibit opens at Main and Second Street. It covers the Battle of the Bay and is put together by Bay Middle School students (see their video below!).
At 2pm, the actual reenactment kicks off at the stage (Beach Blvd. and Main Street intersection). Each schooner holds about 40 dignitaries and event organizers, presumably all in costume.The boats will sail out into the sound and relive history.Cannon fire will be involved (sans the cannon balls!).There’ll be viewing areas all along the seawall.
Don't miss the Veteran's Motorcycle parade at 3:30, ending with a presentation of an American Flag.
The whole shebang is capped off with a $4000 fireworks display at 5:30.
And since it’s the holiday Second Saturday Artwalk (from 4pm- 8pm), all the shops and restaurants will be open and bustling with holiday activities.
To recap from the November Cleaver, the historical event that’s at the center of all this merriment happened in 1814 as a precursor to the more famous “Battle of New Orleans.” The Sea Horse was an American schooner that single-handedly took on the British fleet in a “David versus Goliath” encounter, right in front of the Bay St. Louis shoreline. While the little ship was hopelessly out-manned, it managed to delay British forces, giving Andrew Jackson (who was commanding American forces in New Orleans) more desperately needed time to organize that city’s defense and keep control of the Mississippi River out of British hands.
Since the event occurred two centuries ago, accounts of the battle vary, but as local historian Charles Gray often says, “history is lies agreed upon.” The most riveting part of Gray’s version occurs when an older woman on crutches shouts to shore-side onlookers of the battle “Will no one fire a shot in the defense of our country?” She grabs a lit cigar being smoked by Bay St. Louis Mayor Toulme and lights the fuse to a cannon, which fires into the midst of the British attackers. Mayhem ensues.
The feisty woman was a visitor from Natchez and happened to be the aunt of Louisiana Governor C.C. Claiborne. In the reenactment that will take place on the 13th, Bay St. Louis businesswoman and restaurateur Ann Tidwell will be playing the role of General Claiborne’s aunt.
Join Ann Tidwell and a cast of other costumed characters for the weekend in this once in a lifetime event. If you don't have a costume already, our sidebar lists some handy resources!
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