Imagine gathering on Harrah's Great Lawn as people all around "ooh" and "ahh," or lying in the sand as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels streak overhead along the beach in Biloxi.
With about a month to go until the "Blues Over Biloxi" on July 21-22, more details are out on the free air show at The Great Lawn at Harrah's Gulf Coast Casino and along miles of beaches.
About 50,000 people are expected to watch the air show each day, said Mark Boyd, project development for David Schultz Airshows, which organized the last Blue Angels airshow at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi in 2011.
"The schedule is flexible right up until the day of the show,” Boyd said. "From noon to 4 you'll see all the action in the sky."
The Blue Angels and the AeroShell Aerobatic Team are the two headline attractions, and Boyd said additional performers are being signed up.
Military flyovers by an F-15 Eagle, a U.S. Air Force F-16 demo and other military hardware also are planned.
Here's what you need to know to take part in the festival and see the show:
- When: The air show on Saturday and Sunday, July 21-22, will run from about 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. The Blue Angels will fly for about 40 minutes at the end of the day, probably around 3:30 p.m., Boyd said.
- Where: Anywhere along the beaches of South Mississippi people are likely to see the Blue Angels practicing on Friday and flying on Saturday and Sunday. The best views and the activities will be headquartered at Harrah's Great Lawn on the beach at 195 Beach Blvd. (U.S. 90) in East Biloxi. Boyd says he expects people will watch from the Biloxi Bay Bridge walkway and from boats in the Mississippi Sound. The Coast Guard will clearly mark the restricted area where boats aren't allowed.
- Cost: Admission to the air show is free. The city of Biloxi paid a $25,000 fee to host the show and sponsors are signing up to help support it.
- VIP area: Admission to a hospitality viewing chalet is $30 for adults and $10 for children under 10, and will provide seating, shade, water and private restrooms. No advance reservations are available for the VIP chalets. Tickets must be purchased with cash only at the entrance beginning at 9 a.m. each day.
- Vendors: Commercial exhibitors will have boats, souvenirs and other merchandise at the Great Lawn.
- Refreshments: Bring chairs and blankets, but coolers and outside food aren't permitted at the Great Lawn. About a dozen food trucks selling all kinds of food and beverages will be set up. and A dining tent will provide shade. "Food trucks are famous for their exotic foodie meals and are quite reasonable, too,” Boyd said. Harrah's will have beer tents on site and The Blind Tiger restaurant, with its decks overlooking the Great Lawn, will be open and serving food and beverages.
- After party: The Blind Tiger restaurant has signed bands both days to perform so people can enjoy music while airshow traffic clears. "They'll start right after the show ends," said manager Dee Viera.
- Parking: East Biloxi lots that are vacant since Hurricane Katrina will provide parking up and down U.S. 90, and Boyd said he expects nearby property owners to sell parking spaces close to the site.
- Traffic: Maj. Christopher De Back with the Biloxi Police Department said the traffic plan is being developed for the airshow. First the city will host Scrapin' the Coast this weekend and the Biloxi fireworks on July 1 on the Back Bay and July 4 on the front beach.
The Blue Angels are based in Pensacola, Florida, and frequently are seen flying along Pensacola Beach. Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich said he wanted residents and visitors in South Mississippi to have the same experience.