By Geoff Belcher
Cannon fire and cries of "Vive la France echoed through Old Town on Saturday as the Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse celebrated both the 205th anniversary of the Battle of the Bay and the 320th anniversary of the European discovery of the Bay of St. Louis.
"This has been a celebration 320 years in the making," Dr. James Keating said before the event kicked off on Saturday.
Keating is not only a member of the Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse, he's also a longtime member of the Hancock County Historical Society and and avid historian. During Saturday's proceedings, he protrude Bernardo Vicente de Galvez y Madrid, who was the governor of theta territory when it was under Spanish control.
Tadd Turner portrayed Jean Baptiste LeMoyne, Sieur d'Bienville, who along with his brother Pierre LeMoyne, Sieur d'Iberville, led the French expedition that first hoisted a European flag here in 1699.
Donald Rafferty, a founding member of the MKOTSH, served as a period-dressed emcee for the event.
Robin Rafferty, another founding member, portrayed King George III. Bay City Councilman Larry Smith stood in for Mayor Mike Favre to portray Mayor John Toulme, who led the city back during the actual Battle of the Bay. Al Copeland spoke about the 1810 rebellion against Spain when this area was still part of the Republic of West Florida. Jimmy Fagin portrayed pirate Capt. Jean Lafitte.
Albert Ghergich portrayed the pirate "Long Beard," a staple of the MKOTSH Pirate Day events.
"I think it was excellent opportunity to fool kids into learning history," Ghergich said.
he Mystic Krewe of the Seahorse gets its name from the USS Seahorse and the Battle of the Bay between the United States Navy and British Navy on Dec. 13, 1814.
Although the U.S. Navy ultimately lost the engagement, it was credited with delaying the British enough for Gen. Andrew Jackson to rally his troops and volunteers and win the Battle of New Orleans, which was the final battle of the War of 1812.
Rear Admiral John A. Okon, Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, Oceanographer and Navigator of the Navy served as the keynote speaker at the celebration and read an actual account of the “Battle of the Bay