Thursday, April 23, 2009
| Holly Springs welcomes guests
• Rain hurts Pilgrimage turnout, but still success
By SUE WATSON
The first day of the 71st annual Pilgrimage in Holly Springs, Friday, was the best day in terms of weather and attendance, but rain and overcast skies Saturday and Sunday didn’t dampen all the fun, according to members of the Holly Springs Garden Club.
Betty Farina with the Holly Springs Tourism Bureau said pilgrims started coming in Thursday asking for tickets and were staying overnight, some for the weekend.
“Today, I had about 10-12 people ask about (the late) Dr. Hale,” she said, saying those visitors were loyal repeat customers to the city. “I thought it was quite nice. One lady had been over to his home (during previous Pilgrimages) and he played the piano for them.”
Kathy Elgin was one of several garden club members meeting guests and giving directions from the library’s ticket office. She said lots of the pilgrims have known about the Pilgrimage for a long time but rely on the ads to remind them its Pilgrimage time.
“We have a lot of repeats,” she said.
Elgin said guests this year registered addresses from many places including Arizona, Delaware, Wyoming, Washington, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nevada, South Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, N. Carolina, Maryland, South Dakota, Manitoba, Canada, Tennessee and Arkansas.
At opening ceremonies at Montrose, family members and friends of the court welcomed guests as the royal court - queen Lauren Poteet and escort Harris Gholson and queen Olivia Childers and escort Will Thomas - were introduced.
The Patriot Performers of Marshall Academy sang “The Star Spangled Banner” followed by opening prayer by Rev. Bruce McMillan - whose prayer reflected upon “the rich heritage in this place.”
He asked for pilgrims to be blessed by the “mighty hand and work in what they see and hear here.”
“May we show our best face, fulfill the expectations of our visitors and please You,” he prayed.
In welcoming comments, Mayor Andre’ DeBerry thanked everyone for “participating in the unique cultural heritage and architecture of the city.”
Two additions this year to the tour were the Ida B. Wells-Barnett Museum, the birthplace of the human and women’s rights activist and journalist. Guests enjoyed a large mural of a 1950 Congo village scene painted by local artist Sue Dieckmann, a mask collection by local artist Keiffer DeBerry, and much more.
Just down Salem Avenue in sight of the museum is Frank Place, the second home added to the tour this year and owned by Gloria Baker, who has lived in Frank House since 1967. Frank Place was built in 1857 by a Dr. Myers and was inhabited by a Jewish couple, Captain Sam Frank and his wife in the 1800s and by U.S. District Attorney G. Wiley Wells .
Friday morning and afternoon provided a steady stream of pilgrims, according to David Person, owner of Burton Place. At times the house was packed, he said.
Friday’s highlight was the Twilight Tour of Hill Crest Cemetery, according to co-chair Sherry Childers. Eighty people rode the carriage tour Friday night.
“It was a huge success,” Childers said, citing the convenience of a riding tour for the elderly who would have a difficult walk of it.
The Saturday morning cemetery tour was cancelled due to an early morning rain that unexpectedly cleared off just at 10 a.m. after the 5K Run - another first for the Pilgrimage this year.
Two large tour buses full of pilgrims saved the day Saturday and the 5K Run drew 55 runners, Childers said. Civil war re-enactors returned to the cemetery this year and fired a canon, held a memorial service, and members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy from the Varina Howell Davis Chapter 2559 of Horn Lake were in attendance.
The Saturday night party and dance, “Montrose Under the Moonlight,” was saved from a rainout by moving the event to Kirkwood National. Childers estimated 375 people attended, due to a huge turnout for The Diggs.
Vendors played a big role in the success of the Pilgrimage, Childers said, with about twice as many turning out this year than in 2008. Musical entertainment scheduled at the gazebo on the courtsquare was canceled due to rain.
Childers praised the entire community for a concerted effort to make the occasion happy and successful for everyone.
“We got so much cooperation from everyone in the community,” she said. “The Holly Springs Garden Club appreciates the support from the community as a whole and from the mayor. There’s plenty of business for everybody. The cemetery was looking beautiful and we had a good experience.
“We were really happy that Ida B. Wells was on the cemetery tour this year. Well’s parents, although not necessarily buried at Hill Crest, died during the Yellow Fever Epidemic.”
Cemetery re-enactors this year included: Clara Isom, as Ida B. Wells-Barnett; Isaiah McNeil, as Hiram Revels; Bruce McMillan, as a pastor who accidentally shot himself and died; Carey Crain, representing the Coxe Family; Arthur Collins, as Judge Trotter, Jake Jones, as the little boy Charlie and his dog; Clara Liddy as Kate Freeman Clark; Sarah Miller and friends as Sisters of Mercy; Boyce and Frances Delashmit and granddaughter Micaela, at the Confederate Memorial; Gene Brown as Spires Boling; and Kelsey Shaw, as Indian Princess Lakota.
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