Biloxi unveils fireworks-free zone this Fourth

Longtime Coast tourism leader Linda Hornsby has had the idea rolling around in her head for several years now, and this Fourth of July it will become a reality on east beach in Biloxi.

It’s a fireworks-free zone, where fireworks will be prohibited among the public and all eyes will be focused on the $100,000 fireworks show sponsored by the city and area businesses.

The fireworks-free zone will occupy the area between Oak Street and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, a mile-long stretch of the eight miles of beachfront in Biloxi. Signs will notify beachgoers and police will be on hand to enforce the no-fireworks zone for the Fourth of July.

Hornsby, as head of the Mississippi Lodging Association, helps book the 15,277 hotel rooms on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (6,825 in Biloxi, which includes the 373 at the new Margaritaville Resort).

She actually pitched the idea of a fireworks-free zone to the tourism partnership a few years ago, the group that managed the $16 million in BP funds. The partnership endorsed the idea.

“It actually had to do with the beach cleanup,” Hornsby said. “About three years, ago the Fourth fell on a Friday. The fireworks were that night and the next morning the first view our visitors had of our area was a beach strewn with litter, the fireworks that people had shot the night before. And the beach was that way all through the weekend, until it was cleaned up Monday.”

Hornsby’s inclination was for the entire beach to be a no-fireworks zone, but Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich believes, at least initially, that the area between Oak Street and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, directly north of the Deer Island, where the fireworks are fired from a barge, is a natural amphitheater.

Said Gilich: “I think it’s going to be great for families and really anyone to come down to this fireworks-free zone and know they can enjoy the fireworks without distraction or worry about being hit by someone else shooting fireworks nearby.”

The tourism forecast: “Hotel occupancy for the Fourth of July weekend is looking good,” Hornsby said. “There’s still availability. People question if it’s good or bad that the Fourth falls on a Monday. Actually, I think it’s good on a Monday. It’s better than on a Friday, because people are staying over for the actual fourth, and if nothing else they may not stay Monday night, but they are here and spending money in our restaurants and retail.”

The weather forecast: Mostly sunny or partly cloudy skies are the forecast for Friday through Independence Day.  The weather service says temperatures will range from nighttime lows of 77 and a peak of near 90 during the day Saturday. Highest chance for showers is 30 percent during the day Friday and Saturday.
See a map of the fireworks-free zone
See the weather forecast
See the weekend calendar of events