OCEAN SPRINGS — Flags whipped in Sunday afternoon’s 10-mph winds, and French colonial re-enactors had to wear elastic chin straps on their Musketeer hats to prevent their being blown overboard.
It was not the sun-kissed restoration of the Landing of Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d’Iberville that members of the 1699 Committee might have hoped for, but it was an interesting event in so many ways, not the least of which were unanticipated bits. A relentlessly bobbing pontoon boat brought re-enactors ashore from a larger sailing vessel. The smaller boat took a few good hits from swells before the last of the costumed men had walked the gangway ashore. The swells caused the gangway to fall into the water, and the last two gentlemen in tights had to be carried to dry land. Among them was Dr. Strawford H. Dees III, whose name was added to the list of distinguished men who’ve been invited to portray Iberville.
A curious windsurfer determined to get the most from the windy day served as backdrop to the historical event playing out on the sand.
One cute little “Indian girl” scampered about the village replica on the beach; she wore braids, fringe and pink Crocs.
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JoAnne Keeney of the 1699 Committee oversaw the table where commemorative T-shirts were for sale, and she said, “This is a tradition we don’t want to see die,” adding that this renewal had been a long time coming since Hurricane Katrina, “but it is an awful lot of work,” she added. Fellow committeewomen Linda Kletecka, treasurer, and secretary Eileen Za concurred.
Four casette girls, all of them Ocean Springs High School students, were quite excited about the chance to be included and had actually volunteered to portray the young women who came from France and later married colonists. They were Tiffany Bouchard, Trinh Nguyen, Laura Woitalla and Caitlin Miller.
By the time Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi gave the invocation, the gathering of spectators had grown from a mere handful right after lunch to a couple of hundred. They cheered when Kathy Mangin sang the U.S. national anthem and again when J.T. Anglin sang “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem.
And the rain obligingly held off till Marco St. John of the Mississippi Repertory Theatre Co. saw the pageant safely to bed.