Several years ago, Celebrate Bluffton, a nonprofit organization, was formed with the mission “to connect residents and visitors to Bluffton’s rich historical and cultural past.”

They have been working diligently on an app to bring Bluffton’s Heritage Trail to life. This was done in partnership with the Don Ryan Center for Innovation and USCB.

Two weeks ago, I received an email from chairman Bob Newbert with the subject line “Bluffton Buddy.” Curious, I quickly opened it and to my excitement was the announcement of the release of the Bluffton Buddy app.

Bluffton Buddy is “your guide to the people, places and traditions” that make Bluffton the “Heart of the Lowcountry.” It works with all mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – and, best of all, it is free and available in the App Store for Apple IOS and Google Play for Android.

On the app, the tour stops throughout Bluffton, not just Old Town. It opens all of Bluffton to virtual visits back in time. Bluffton Buddy includes historic churches and homes. It features a decisive Civil War naval battle and shares insight to life on a plantation.

The app tells about the Gullah people, their religious and community traditions, and the success of a freedman to build a life for his family during Reconstruction.

It explains the Bluffton Movement, which started the call for secession almost 20 years before the Civil War began, and it highlights the oyster packing industry that once thrived in Bluffton.

Bluffton Buddy also illuminates little understood areas of our heritage, such as the importance of Watch Night and “determinations”; the Bluffton thoroughbred owner whose racehorse won the Preakness and Belmont Stakes; the meaning of leaving three peas of Hoppin’ John on your plate; or why it’s good when the “mud shrinks” in cold weather.

Bluffton Buddy appeals to Bluffton residents and visitors alike. For residents, it creates hometown pride, a greater appreciation for Bluffton’s history, and background knowledge to enrich the experience of visiting friends and family.

The app is available 24/7 from anywhere in the world so people can make Bluffton a “must see” on their visit to the Lowcountry.

Bluffton Buddy is self-paced. Go at your own speed; start anywhere; finish anywhere, anytime. Take the entire tour or just parts that interest your most. Do it in a single sitting or over several days.

Bluffton Buddy is GPS-enabled to guide you to every stop.

This is just another way to highlight our great town, showing off our historical assets. Please download this app and let us know what you think.

Lisa Sulka is the Mayor of the Town of Bluffton.