Day 5: Kent State restores iconic gazebo to Pass Christian

Aman Ali

A volunteer works on building a new gazebo for the veteran’s memorial park in Pass Christian, Miss. on Thursday. The prior gazebo was built following Hurricane Camille. PHOTOS BY GAVIN JACKSON | STATERONLINE

Credit: Steve Schirra

 PASS CHRISTIAN, MISS. — When Hurricane Katrina clobbered this small town outside of Biloxi, one of the precious gems the storm destroyed was the local gazebo.

Throughout the week, Kent State volunteers have been rebuilding the gazebo for the people of Pass Christian.

“A gazebo is a sign in the community for things getting back to normal,” said Gary Reid, director of the Pass Christian Community Action Network.

The gazebo once stood facing the Gulf of Mexico inside a park ornamented with azaleas and historic monuments. The storm destroyed most of the landscape, and only the gazebo’s foundation remained.

“The basic foundation was left from the hurricane,” said Dan Shumaker, one of the crew leaders for the gazebo project and a member of Habitat for Humanity’s Medina Co. chapter. “All we had to do was grind the steel poles and lay down the treated lumber to start the project.”

Using pictures and diagrams of what the previous gazebo looked like, the crew placed the steel and lumber poles around the foundation to form a circle. Rafters from the poles were then used to branch off in an upward slope to support the copula, the round centerpiece structure placed on top of the gazebo.

Other volunteers have been working on cleaning up the land around the gazebo as well. Water surges from Hurricane Katrina tarnished many of the metallic monuments inside the park. Workers are scrubbing the statues and landscaping some gardens to give the park some additional shine.


The crew plans on finishing the gazebo project before Kent State leaves tomorrow.

“We’re taking on monumental tasks here,” Shumaker said. “You don’t get monumental results until you put in monumental efforts.”

The gazebo served as a community-gathering place for Pass Christian residents. Every year, the local art association holds “Art in the Park,” the town’s famous festival at the gazebo.

“This gazebo has always been a focal point of the art show,” said Sally James, manager of the Pass Christian Library.

Families around the community also used the gazebo for weddings and parties.

To read Aman’s blog about his own experiences, click here.

“I can still remember my granddaughter having her second birthday party there,” James said. “We had pony rides in the park and the cake sat right inside the gazebo.”

Although the gazebo has stood in that spot for more than 100 years, hurricanes have destroyed it numerous times. The last time the gazebo was rebuilt was after Hurricane Camille in 1968.

Check back to throughout the week for daily reports about the volunteers’ efforts.

Contact student affairs reporter Aman Ali at [email protected].