Casino Gambling

If you worked at Grand Casino Gulfport, you’re invited to a reunion

Grand Casino Gulfport’s 600-room Oasis Resort and Spa in Gulfport had a lazy river in its three-acre water park and 16,000-square-foot spa. Former employees will gather during a reunion this month.
Grand Casino Gulfport’s 600-room Oasis Resort and Spa in Gulfport had a lazy river in its three-acre water park and 16,000-square-foot spa. Former employees will gather during a reunion this month. Sun Herald File

They haven’t been together since Hurricane Katrina did her damage, but this year former employees of Grand Casino Gulfport will reunite.

The gathering will be from 6-10 p.m. July 26 at Biloxi Community Center on Howard Avenue and all former employees and a guest are invited to attend.

“It’s the talk of the casinos,” said Yvette Vassey, one of the organizers.

The employees really scattered after Katrina. Vassey said 179 people signed up for the reunion from all over the U.S., including Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Florida and Arizona.

The deadline to puchase tickets was July 17. She can’t take any additional T-shirt orders.

A photographer will be there to snap a group photo, which is available for $10, and a photo booth, DJ and caterer will help make it a party.

Vassey said the reunion was limited to just the Gulfport Grand employees because the they didn’t co-mingle with the staff of the Biloxi Grand before the storm and couldn’t accommodate both properties.

“It was a great place to work,” she said, and some of their past leaders at the Grand are hoping to attend the reunion. John Ferrucci, now general manager at Silver Slipper Casino in Hancock County, was there when the Grand Gulfport opened and will be one of the speakers. Others who may attend are Richard Henderson, Al Yard and Duncan McKenzie, now general manager at IP Casino Resort in Biloxi.

Lyle Berman co-founded Grand Casinos Inc. in 1990 and Vassey recalls the night when Grand Gulfport opened in 1993. She was trained as a blackjack dealer in the the Grand’s on-site course and a Day 1 employee. The staff reported at 6 p.m., she recalls, and started pulling the protective plastic off the chairs. The casino opened at 8 p.m. and she said, “There must have been 3,000 people outside the door.”

She was a supervisor when Katrina hit and stayed through the storm. When she saw the Kids Quest barge washed ashore and blocking both lanes of U.S. 90, she knew she wouldn’t be going back to work anytime soon.

“We loved each other, it’s a family,” Vassey said of the Grand employees. They had talked about a reunion in years past, but this year five former employees formed a committee, started a social media page and said, “Let’s make it happen.”

Those who want to attend can call Vassey at 228-326-8087.

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