Pass Christian, MS

"In its darkest hour, Pass Christian shines"

Mayor Chipper McDermott stands in front of the harbor that he helped rebuild after Hurricane Katrina destroyed everything in its path. (Credit: Evelina Burnett)

Pass Christian is in many ways a typical small beach town in America, but there is something special about this place nicknamed “The Pass” by those who call it home. But the city’s real draw is the spirit of its people.

I first visited Pass Christian about one week after Hurricane Katrina devastated this small Gulf Coast city. The majority of the city’s homes, all of its businesses and most of its municipal buildings and services – city hall, police and fire stations, library, harbor – were either destroyed or flooded. And yet, even at this time, when most of the city’s residents were confronted with the loss of all of their possessions, they were warm and welcoming. They helped each other out during the storm, but just as importantly, they worked together to rebuild the city afterwards.

It is beautiful here once again – the beaches restored, the harbor, homes and businesses rebuilt – but the niceness here really lives inside the hearts of its people, who – even in their darkest hour – welcomed strangers and helped their neighbors, and continue to do so today.

Evelina’s son enjoys a warm Gulf breeze on the beach. (Credit: Evelina Burnett)

Pass Christian is the kind of place where you can accidentally leave your wallet in a shopping cart at Walmart and an employee will find it and take it inside for you until you come back for it. It is the kind of place where residents come together to rebuild parks and playgrounds before their homes are even complete.

Pass Christian Books, a favorite local hotspot, where the employees know your name. (Credit: Evelina Burnett)

It is a place where residents remember the kindness of the many volunteers and donors who helped rebuild the city after Hurricane Katrina, and now try to pay that generosity forward by donating to those affected by Hurricane Sandy, the Louisiana floods, and other natural disasters.

Local librarian embraces the Halloween spirit in her witch costume. (Credit: Evelina Burnett)