Harrison County

‘I won’t stop coming.’ Spring breakers on why they come back, despite feeling unwelcome.

It’s that time of year again — when young adults from across the country come to Biloxi to have a good time and let loose.

Black spring break, also known as Biloxi Black Beach Weekend, also known as Mississippi Gulf Coast Spring Break, is back this weekend. Even though Boosie Badazz called for a boycott of the event, returning spring breakers and newcomers say the rapper won’t stop them from having fun.

And neither will signs that the city isn’t welcoming them with open arms. Last year, visitors complained of increased police presence, stores in Edgewater Mall closing for the weekend, and restaurants charging automatic gratuity.

Despite sometimes feeling unwelcome, spring breakers keep coming back year after year. So the question is, why? The Sun Herald talked to new and repeat visitors who plan on attending this year’s events.

Eric Cole of Charlotte, North Carolina, who has been attending since 2010, pointed out that the event brings in revenue to the city and its businesses. “What city wouldn’t want an event like this?”

“The events are great, the networking is great, that’s why I won’t stop coming,” he said.

Frank Shelby, 40, of Gulfport, has been attending for five years and agrees that black spring break affects Biloxi’s economy in a positive way. He says people of all backgrounds should be valued during black spring break.

“We all bleed the same way and we all spend the same money,” said Shelby.

“We keep coming back to prove people wrong. We’ll keep coming and we’ll keep spending, that’s the bottom line.”

Lorenzo Jacobs, 30, is another resilient spring breaker. He has been coming to spring break from Atlanta since 2011, and he was in town in 2017 when rapper Boosie Badazz, formerly known as Lil Boosie, was pepper sprayed inside Dillard’s. Despite the negativity associated with the situation, Jacobs says that was an isolated incident.

“What happened to Boosie was messed up, but I don’t like how he’s trying to detour people from the event. His issues should be with Dillard’s and any others involved, it has nothing to do with spring break,” said Jacobs.

Jacobs will be back again this year, he says black spring break is one of a kind.

“This event puts a stamp on Biloxi, Mississippi, for regular people, college students, professional athletes, celebrities and entertainers. This is a premiere event.”

The event also attracts newcomers every year. That’s because the event’s reputation of being “fun” precedes it.

“I’m excited to come because I’ve heard so much about this event from my friends who went last year and had so much fun there” said Makela Hicks, 21, who is coming from Tuskegee, Alabama, for the first time.

Nick Brundidge and his team, who own the MississippiSpringBreak.com website, are organizing parking options and beach events for the 10th year in a row.

“Our numbers increase every year. When we first started in 2010, we had about 10,000 people. And this year, we’re expecting our biggest year yet,” he said.

“I’m from Biloxi, I went to Biloxi schools, graduated from Biloxi schools, went to college in Florida, and came back here to bring the fun and excitement from over there, back to my home city” said Nick Brundidge.

Brundidge says it’s very encouraging to see so many people come out and support every year.

“This event is promoted strictly via social media, word of mouth, and grassroots promotion and it’s reaching thousand of people over the world. It’s obvious that people want to be here, and it would make sense for the city to welcome it with open arms just like they do Mardi Gras and Cruisin’ The Coast.”

He said he hopes one day the city of Biloxi will sponsor spring break events.

He also talked about how he loved growing up on the Coast.

“I had fun growing up. I enjoyed the beach, casinos, food, and all the amenities the coast has to offer.

“I want people to enjoy those same things I enjoyed growing up. That’s why this event will continue to happen each and every year.”

Follow more of our reporting on Biloxi Spring Break

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Britneé Davis is McClatchy’s South Region Digital Producer. The south region includes the Sun Herald, the Telegraph, and the Ledger-Enquirer.