The event celebrated St. Patrick, but St. Anthony was on Camille Bailey’s mind after losing her Rolex wristwatch in Baton Rouge’s Wearin’ of the Green Parade.
“I told her to start praying to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things,” says Terry Bailey, Camille’s mother. “She said she didn’t know if she believed in St. Anthony. Well, after this happened, she believes in St. Anthony now.”
The watch was returned to Camille by Markie Sullivan after Sullivan’s 9-year-old daughter, Khloey, discovered it in a tangle of beads. She handed the watch to her mom, and her mom tried running after the float.
Little did Sullivan know, the Rolex was more than an expensive watch. It was an heirloom passed down to Camille Bailey by her deceased aunt and godmother, Connie Escoffier.
“Camille was frantic when she called me,” Terry Bailey says. “It took several calls to find out what was wrong, and I still couldn’t understand her. Finally, I asked her boyfriend, and he said she lost her watch. They went back to look for it, and they couldn’t find it.”
Camille Bailey, a 21-year-old student at LSU, went to her parents’ home in New Orleans after the parade.
“She was devastated,” Terry Bailey says. “We lived through Katrina, so we’ve learned not to get attached to material things, but this was something that couldn’t be replaced. It felt like a death to us.”
Terry Bailey finally went online and contacted Wearin’ of the Green Chairperson Mabyn Shingleton, who posted an alert on the parade’s Facebook page.
“We were all praying to St. Anthony to help us find this watch,” Terry Bailey says.
St. Anthony must have been listening.
“It was the first thing I saw,” says Sullivan of her Facebook page the next morning. “After I ran after the float, I didn’t want to hold up the watch and ask if someone had lost it, because I didn’t want just anyone claiming that it was theirs. When I saw it on Facebook, I knew it was the watch.”
Sullivan used the opportunity to teach her daughter a lesson about helping others.
“She wanted to know what we were going to do with the watch, and I told her we were going to find the owner and return it,” Sullivan says. “I asked her what would she want to happen if she lost one of her dolls or toys. She said she’d want it returned to her.”
Sullivan also could identify with the Baileys’ predicament.
“My children’s father died four years ago, and I have his things,” she says. “I understand what it is to have something that belonged to someone who isn’t with us anymore and how these things can’t be replaced. The whole story behind the watch really hit home with me.”
The two families connected through Shingleton. Sullivan met Camille Bailey Monday morning and returned the watch.
“We offered a $1,000 reward for the watch,” Terry Bailey says. “I prayed that it would go to someone who needed help. When Markie returned the watch, she said she hated to profit from someone else’s tragedy, but the money came at a time when she could really use it. I was so grateful for that — my prayers were answered.”