Blessing of Fleet and weekend preview; other news and notes

“We’ve had nothing but real, real positive responses,” says Father Greg Barras of this weekend’s Blessing of the Fleet and Biloxi Shrimp Festival. “There’s a lot of gratefulness that we’re putting it on despite everything. People realize that this is something positive and hopeful, and reminds us of the bounty that has come out of the Gulf for generations. And it’s a time for us to be hopeful that we’ll get through everything and that the bounty will continue for generations to come.”

Of course, the “everything” to which Barras refers is the continuing threat of oil from the BP oil spill and leak that has captured worldwide attention in the weeks since April 20.

Barras (pronounced bur-rah) and organizers of the 81st annual Blessing of the Fleet and Shrimp Festival decided weeks ago that the time-honored tradition of the Biloxi blessing would take place regardless of the situation in the Gulf. The celebration includes a 10 a.m.-to-10 p.m. festival — also known as a “fais do-do,” a French term loosely translated as “street dance” — Saturday on the Town Green, a 4 p.m. Mass of the Blessing at St. Michael’s, and the actual blessing of the shrimp fleet on Sunday afternoon, beginning at 2, off the east Biloxi shoreline.

Of course, Barras said, the turnout of working shrimp boats has been called into question with the early opening this week of shrimp season.

“We don’t know what the turnout will be on the water Sunday,” he said. “It depends on the weather and the haul since Thursday’s opening of shrimp season. Either way it’ll be good, because if they’re not here it means they’re at work.”

To learn more about the event — the colorful history, photos from previous years and to see this year’s schedule and official poster — click here.

Your weekend preview: To see the entertainment listings for this weekend — including performances by The Backstreet Boys, Bill Engvall, Charley Pride, Johnny Lee, Ray Price, John Conlee and more — click here.

News and notes

On the waterfront: A 60-day, $37,600 project to repair the Old Ice Wharf, a public pier on Back Bay, is scheduled to begin this month and be completed by mid-August. A start date on repairs to the Biloxi Lighthouse pier — a $316,500, nine-month project — is forthcoming.

The numbers from BP: To see BP’s latest “Mississippi Key Highlights” — a report that provides statistics on damage and loss-of-income claims, volunteers, amount and types of boom deployed and on order, and other data — click here.

Weather Channel: Jim Cantore, the popular meteorologist on cable TV’s Weather Channel, will have a brief televised chat with Mayor A.J. Holloway Monday morning at 7:40. The interview will be beamed to a national audience, live from Biloxi.

Accident video déjà vu: This week’s incident where a tractor-trailer overturned while trying to negotiate the westward turn from I-110 to U.S. 90 was the second such incident to be captured on video at the intersection since Aug. 29, 2009. To see dramatic video of the aftermath of the previous accident, click here.

Preservation pictures: Photographer Albert Henrion Jr. and the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce have provided a number of photographs from the city’s recent preservation awards and other recent preservation events. To see the images, more than 60 in all, click here.

Council meeting: The Biloxi City Council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, June 15 at 1:30 p.m.

Webcasting: The inside story on the recent annexation ruling involving Biloxi, D’Iberville and Harrison County is the central topic of this week’s webcast. To listen to the 20-minute program, taped Thursday morning, click here.