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Update: Estimated 35,000 spring breakers enjoying Biloxi Beach, expect traffic delays

BILOXI -- Local law enforcement officials estimate about 35,00 people on Saturday participated in spring break activities such as Biloxi Black Beach Weekend. The three-day event started Friday night and concludes Sunday.

"This year is unique in that people are still coming into the city," Miller said Saturday night. "Usually they are starting to leave by this point."

Miller said Biloxi police worked about 10 wrecks Saturday, none of which were serious. He said there had also been a handful of people arrested.

Spring break fills area hotels with out-of-town guests, making a significant impact on the local economy.

It is also a chance for those vending food and other items to have a profitable weekend.

A diverse crowd

Thomas Brown of Gulfport owns Kandymellons, a vending booth that specializes in flavored watermelon slices. He was one of several vendors set up Saturday along the fence on the property of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

The Coliseum on Saturday was playing host to several Biloxi Black Beach Weekend events, including a car show and concert.

"This is my first year to sell at spring break," Brown said. "The crowd is so diversified and there's so many different people here and with all the negative stuff with HB 1523 in the national news, I'm glad people are still showing up."

HB 1523 is commonly known as the "Religious Rights" bill. It could allow business owners and others such as circuit clerks to discriminate and deny services based on personal religious beliefs.

Brown said he is glad to see it hasn't, thus far, affected the Coast.

"I'm glad people still showed up, but only time will tell what's going to happen next," he said. "We know how to get along and be diverse on the Coast because the storms, like Katrina, force that to happen, but the governor won't change the flag, and he signed this bill, so who knows for how long people are going to want to visit us on the Coast."

Stopping the negativity

While thousands were at the Coliseum, it was not the only venue holding spring break events Saturday.

A fish-fry and blues concert was held on the grounds of Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis. The concert was a fundraiser for TNT Ranch, a refuge for addicts and the homeless in Orange Grove.

"The Coast is full of diversity, and there are so many people here for spring break," TNT owner Tony Stapleton said. "The staff at Beauvoir have been so helpful in letting us do this and there is a lot of negativity associated with the Beauvoir sometimes -- we just wanted to put a stop to that negativity and bring everyone together."

Based on love

Anthony Richardson on Saturday was selling and giving away samples of his Unique Flavors Teas, a natural tea company based in Atlanta. He said he saw spring break as a great opportunity for his business.

"I live in Atlanta and this used to be called Freaknik and was in Atlanta, so I wanted to come down and be a part of festival," Richardson said. "I want to be a part of something where there's 15,000 people."

Richardson said the negativity that currently surrounds the state is not a true representation of the Coast.

"My family lives in Moss Point and Pascagoula and there is a lot of love on the Coast," he said. "And my company is based on love and we're not going to discriminate against anyone."

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