Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (WGNO) – Wander around Bay St. Louis long enough and you’re certain to discover one of the town’s four ‘angel trees.’
“Dayle Lewis is a chainsaw artist who took dead trees — dead because of the salt water, because of Katrina — and turned them into something beautiful and amazing,” says Jane Byrne, of the Hancock County Tourism Bureau.
There are two standing near the edge of the ocean, and two more standing tall in the cemetery located in the heart of the historic district. The trees are remarkable works of art, carved with a chainsaw!
The first one, which can be found to the left of The Blind Tiger restaurant if you are looking out at the ocean, was born out of a night of despair, during Hurricane Katrina.
“It’s probably the plainest of them all, but it has such special meaning because that’s where three people and a dog spent the night during Katrina,” says Jane.
The people, and the dog, survived — and they give credit to the tree for saving their lives. They said it was as if angels had been watching over them, so they found a way to put that feeling into something they could look at as a symbol of survival and the ability to “weather the storms” of life.
“They hired Dayle Lewis and he did such an exceptional job with the first tree that we now have four trees in town with angels watching over us,” says Jane.
Even the town’s mayor, Les Fillingame, says his town has an affinity for the heavenly beings.
“The death of some of these wonderful old trees has brought life to some of these angels and they are some of our most popular citizens right now,” says Mayor Fillingame.
The most elaborate of the four angel trees looks out to sea, just like the original one — it has several angels carved into it, along with some herons, ladybugs, turtles and pelicans. One of the angels has white eyes — of all the angels that adorn the four angel trees, it’s the only one with white eyes.
“The artist said that she was so scared because of Katrina that her eyes turned white,” says Jane.
Such unique guardians, watching over this quaint town by the sea.