U.S. 90 clears, Black Beach Weekend lifts grieving mother's spirits
BILOXI -- U.S. 90 cleared out Sunday morning after bumper-to-bumper traffic from Saturday afternoon on through the night for Black Beach Weekend.
The only signs of the annual party that draws thousand were visitors loading their trunks in hotel parking lots and grabbing meals at restaurants along the beach.
Tonie Kirkland of Greenville stopped by the Coast Coliseum, party central for spring breakers, Sunday morning to pick up a go box of crawfish.
This was her inaugural trip. A motorcycle buff, Kirkland said she came down for the Saturday motorcycle show and plans to return next year with a trailer carrying her bikes, a cruiser and a racer.
Kirkland is trying to recover from tragedy. She lost her mother in 2013, her father in 2014 and her son, the youngest of three, in 2015. He died Sept. 28, the same day as his grandfather the year before.
The 19-year-old was killed in an automobile accident on his way home from Mississippi Delta Community College, she said. A friend was driving while her son slept. The accident was not his friend's fault.
Kirkland said her son had encouraged her as she worked on her master's degree, which she just received in business administration. She wanted to celebrate by coming for the beach weekend with friends.
"It's been kind of hard trying to finish school with all that on my mind," she said. "I cry every day, but I just know it is going to get easier."
Sharon Henry said she will be back, too. Henry brought her Finger Lickers vending service from Atlanta and set up at the Coliseum. This was her first year for Black Beach Weekend. She said the trip from Atlanta was worth her while. But she won't be bringing fish next time. Henry didn't sell one fish plate, or many gyros, for that matter.
"I'll do better next year," said Henry, who was packing her wares Sunday morning. "I know what to bring. The college kids, they like chicken wings."