Biloxi prepares to unveil statue of local hero Fred Haise

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – In a week, the city of Biloxi will unveil a statue of Apollo 13 astronaut Fred Haise.

In the meantime, preparations are underway to lay the groundwork for a local hero. For artist Lucinda L’Enfant, creating the “Moon Walk” mural leading to the monument near the Biloxi Lighthouse was a challenge.

“I was terribly lucky,” she said. “I had time. And I had trouble getting supplies.

And she had less than two weeks to do it.

“I usually say it takes me a month to complete a project,” L’Enfant said. “This one. Oh my God! It’s huge!”

But, she admits it’s appropriate for the occasion.

“I absolutely feel the curse of Apollo 13.”

And The Child has grown to appreciate the moment and learn from the story it represents.

“I try to think about astronauts,” she said. “I mean they had a life-threatening situation and they remained very calm. So we’re not panicking early right now. That’s what I learned from that.

The mural, which is a conceptual work based on the moon’s surface, is part of the exhibit that will pay homage to Biloxi native Haise.

Dann Balius, owner of Balius Welding and Iron Works, did the metal work that will attach the statue to the base.

For weeks the statue, made by Mary Ott Tremmel Davidson, who also created the statue of explorer D’Iberville that stands outside the Biloxi Visitor Center, has resided in her shop.

“He was a hero for the city,” he said. “It’s special and I want to thank everyone. Because everyone who has come together to be a part of this thing has really stepped up to make sure this turns out to be a big reveal.

Balius, who grew up on the same street as Haise, created his own astronaut honor in 1970 with help from his brother, Derel, and cousin Stanley Dellenger.

“We said, ‘You know what? We should put up a sign and call it Haise Street after the astronaut. I said, ‘Well, let’s do it!’ “

The city eventually made the change official. Bailus said the monument would be good for the city and good for tourism.

“Where it is, we have the lighthouse, we have the visitor center, it’s on the main section where all the casinos are,” Balius said. “So this thing will get a lot of attention and when it’s finished, people will enjoy coming to see it.”

The unveiling of the statue will take place at 1:13 p.m. Sunday just south of the Biloxi Lighthouse.

Want more WLOX news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Copyright 2022 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.