A Shell-Out Crowd

Saturday was a big day in the city of Waveland with the reopening of the Garfield Ladner Pier and the first annual Oyster Fest.

Lines of people flocked to the pier for the all day festival and by all accounts, it was a very good day for the city and the local merchants who supported the festival.

“This was probably one of the most wonderful days in the city of Waveland since Hurricane Katrina,” Charlie Cornelius, president of the Waveland Community Coalition, said Tuesday. “This was a gathering of the community to celebrate a visible sign of recovery.”

The Waveland Community Coalition co-sponsored, the event along with the Hancock County Tourism Bureau.

Cornelius said an estimated 5,000 people attended the event.
The festival began with the reopening of the Pier.

Mayor Tommy Longo said the pier is a centerpiece for the city and a huge step in the recovery process.

The $4 million pier project has been under way since last summer.

The new pier is about 1,200 feet in length, offering six covered picnic areas, men’s and women’s bathrooms, a bait shop, and ranger’s station.

A new black-topped entrance accommodates parking and there are 15 covered benches along the pier for residents to enjoy the view, officials said.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the pier was a popular fishing site for local sportsmen.

It was named after long-time Waveland Mayor Garfield Ladner.
Ladner’s family members were on hand to celebrate the reopening.

Also in attendance were Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman and many other local and state leaders.

After city officials cut the ribbon on the new pier, residents were allowed to walk on it for the first time.

The first fish was caught shortly afterwards by three-year-old Dakota Hoyt.

There was also a sand-sculpting contest, volleyball, food and entertainment, and many other activities. Local merchants praised the event and said it was a good chance to gain some exposure for themselves and the city.

“I though it went very well,” Roger Estopinal of Dee’s Grocery and Deli said. “We did not stop all day. The city laid the groundwork for an excellent festival in the future.”

BY Dwayne Bremer

The Sea Coast Echo

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