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Biloxi will honor 2017 with an Oyster Ball Drop

This oyster lugger is part of the seafood heritage on the Coast.
This oyster lugger is part of the seafood heritage on the Coast.

What’s ringing in the new year without a traditional ball drop?

The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi will fill that void for the second straight year with an event unique to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

As the final seconds of 2016 are counted down, the museum will host the New Year’s Eve Oyster Ball Drop on Saturday to welcome 2017 and celebrate an important aspect of the Coast’s heritage and identity.

“There will be no other kind of drop on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” said Robin David, executive director of the museum on Point Cadet near the Biloxi Bay Bridge. “Mobile has the Moon Pie Drop, Pensacola has the Pelican Drop. Our museum is about seafood and since the seafood industry is what built the Coast, we thought of the Oyster Ball Drop. This is our way of ringing in the New Year.”

The Oyster Ball itself is about 32 inches wide and will be dropped down a cable line and into a makeshift oyster basket outside the museum during the countdown to 2017.

At the same time, said David, a high-volume and booming factory whistle will be blown, symbolic of how Biloxi and other Gulf Coast communities were called when ships brought in their loads of shrimp, oysters, fish and other seafood before modern times.

“Back then, you didn’t have telephones and most of the workers lived in row houses near the Coast,” David said. “They would hear the factory whistle, let’s say at 3 or 4 in the morning, to let them know it’s time to get up and head to the factories to prepare the seafood that just came in.

“Last year when we blew the whistle, a lot of people in the area contacted us and told us they heard it.”

Established in 1986, the museum showcases the maritime history and heritage of the Mississippi Gulf Coast through a wide array of exhibits on shrimping, oystering, recreational fishing along with a historic line of boats and ships. Antique items are on display such as a shrimp peeling machine and what was used in marine blacksmithing.

The museum’s original building was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. The new building opened in August 2014.

The festivities start at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and go to 1 a.m. in the New Year. Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine cocktails, beer and other amenities will be served.

The Biloxi band Qrisis will perform throughout the night.

The museum is at 115 1st St. on Point Cadet.

For more information, visit www.maritimemuseum.org or call 228-435-6320.

If you go

What: New Year’s Eve Oyster Ball Drop

Where: Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, 115 1st St. in Biloxi on Point Cadet near the Biloxi Bay Bridge

When: The festivities start at 8:30 p.m. Saturday and last until 1 a.m.

Tickets: $30 per person and $50 per couple. Heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine cocktails and beer and other amenities will be served.

For more information: www.maritimemuseum.org or 228-435-6320

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