THE GOLDEN PINEAPPLE AWARD
The pineapple has long been an international symbol of hospitality and welcome. This symbolism
is derived from the new world during the age of exploration and discovery. The Caribbean is a
hot and humid place, covered by parrot-flecked jungle that is lush and overgrown. Spanish
exploration proved to be a very hazardous line of work in this environment. When happening
upon a new village, the explorers quickly learned how to tell if the natives would be hostile. The
Carib Indians would place an “anana” fruit, renowned for its intense sweetness, at the entrance of
their village to symbolize their hospitality and good will. The Spanish called this fruit the
pineapple because of its rich flavor and similar appearance to their familiar pinecone. Mississippi
is entering a golden age of being explored and discovered by tourists from all over the world.
Golden Pineapple Award Recipient 2008, Rich Westfall and his wife, Mary Ann
Rich Westfall, Director of Community Development, Isle of Capri Casino Resort, Biloxi, has
been one of the biggest proponents of the Gulf Coast’s tourism industry and a catalyst for the
economy, bringing in important projects that have helped to stimulate growth. He has been
influential in the rebuilding efforts after Katrina, jumpstarting the hospitality industry back to life.
For his work an dedication to setting the golden standard for tourism excellence in this and for
placing the pineapple on Mississippi’s front door, the students of The University of Southern
Mississippi Department of Tourism Management, recognized and honored Mr. Westfall at the
Passions of the Palette 2008 event with the first annual Golden Pineapple Award for his
unwavering example of southern hospitality and support of tourism.