Harrison County

Black Beach Weekend expected to draw crowds

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDA sign notifies drivers to expect heavy traffic on U.S. 90 this weekend due to Biloxi Black Beach Weekend in Biloxi.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALDA sign notifies drivers to expect heavy traffic on U.S. 90 this weekend due to Biloxi Black Beach Weekend in Biloxi. SUN HERALD

BILOXI -- Coast hotels, restaurants and entertainment venues are prepared to welcome Biloxi Black Beach Weekend spring breakers on a sunny weekend that also promises heavy traffic.

A Twerk Fest at the Coast Convention Center on Friday night will be a warm-up for larger crowds expected Saturday. Coliseum parking for easy beach and grounds access opens at 10 a.m., with activities on the grounds.

As many as 10,000 people are expected to attend the Gulf Coast Spring Fest, a concert by Future and others at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Coliseum.

"We're feeling really good about it," promoter Derrian Burns said. "We want people to get over the stigma of it having 'black' in the name. Everyone is welcome to come out."

Police are urging locals who don't want to get caught up in traffic to avoid U.S. 90 in Biloxi on Saturday. Gulfport police say locals can use Anniston Avenue and DeBuys Road as alternate routes.

Biloxi Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich has directed police to keep traffic moving.

Otherwise, he said, "people coming to our city, that's what we're all about -- having a great time, and enjoying our great hospitality, and the many things we have to offer."

"A record number of hotel rooms have been rented," said Linda Hornsby of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association.

The Coast has about 14,000 rooms. All were booked earlier this week. Hornsby said some hoteliers have reported cancellations but any available rooms may be rented quickly.

"I'm very thankful we have all this business," she said, "but the visitors aren't all here for spring break."

The Shuckers are playing at MGM Park in Biloxi and the Gulf Coast Yacht and Boat Show starts Friday at Gulfport Harbor, among other events.

The Coliseum has made available 10,200 seats for Saturday night's concert. About 850 tickets were still available by 4 p.m. Thursday, Coliseum Executive Director Matt McDonnell said. Some walk-up tickets may be left by Saturday, but McDonnell said it's likely the concert will sell out.

Restaurants such as Slap Ya Momma's are getting ready for crowds.

"We will be fully staffed to make sure we can handle a lot of business," manager Crissy Dedeaux said. "We have our deck open so it may be busier for us than this time last year."

A spring break finale is planned Sunday at Cabana Beach Bar and Grill in Gulfport.

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