90th annual Blessing of the Fleet

The 90th annual Blessing of the Fleet takes place this weekend in East Biloxi.

The weekend-long tradition, which officially began Thursday with the Memorial of the Mass for Deceased Fishermen, will continue this weekend with the Great Biloxi Schooner Mayors Cup, Fais Do-Do, and the Blessing of the Fleet.

The weekend activities kick off Saturday morning beginning at 11 a.m. with the Great Biloxi Schooner Mayors Cup. Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich and Mayor Rusty Quave of D’Iberville compete again this year for the trophy by sailing the two Biloxi Schooners, the Mike Sekul and the Glenn L. Swetman. Last year Mayor Quave sailed into the Schooner Pier first but Mayor Gilich says “we are looking forward to bringing the cup back to Biloxi where it belongs.”

Then, the daylong Fais-Do-Do, a French term loosely translated as street dance, takes place at the Point Cadet Plaza from 4 to 10 p.m. The event features seafood heritage displays, the Milk Carton Shrimp Boat Contest winners presentation at 4:30 p.m., the Schooner race winner presentation at 4:45 p.m., the Shrimp Queen Pageant and coronation at 5:30 p.m., The Chee-Weez at 7 p.m., and arts, crafts and food vendors.

On Sunday, the actual blessing of the fleet takes place in the Biloxi channel. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m. with the dropping of a wreath in memory of deceased fishermen and seafood industry workers. Brightly decorated boats will be in a procession that will stretch from the Biloxi Lighthouse eastward to the Golden Nugget. The vessels will be blessed by the Rev. Greg Barras of St. Michael Catholic Church.  

Elsewhere this weekend: The Biloxi Shuckers continue their homestand with the Tennessee Smokies at MGM Park, dinosaurs roam the Biloxi Civic Center for the Jurassic Adventure, and the ROK Battle at the Beach karting race continues at the Finishline Performance Karting. Over at the casinos Aaron Lewis performs at the Hard Rock and Glow in the Dark Run takes place at the Golden Nugget parking lot. 
See the Gulf Coast Weekend Great Biloxi Schooner Mayors Cup video
See the Blessing of the Fleet flyer
See the Blessing of the Fleet poster
See the Biloxi Community Calendar
See a complete weekend line up

Oscar Renda hits paving milestone

Oscar Renda Contracting, the firm overseeing the lion’s share of infrastructure work now underway in East Biloxi, says a record 8,500 tons of asphalt was placed on the streets of East Biloxi this month.

Jennifer Matranga, Oscar Renda’s project manager, says the amount — which required over 566 dump truck loads of asphalt — is nearly double the highest amount of asphalt used in any month since the project began. Nearly every street on the eastern end of the project, all those east of Lee Street, has the final coat of asphalt.

Matranga and Hemphill Construction’s Jack Gratwick update work in this month’s infrastructure update video, a five-minute report published this week on the city’s YouTube channel.

“People are seeing more and more paving,” Matranga says of the project, which covers about 55 miles of streets north of the CSX railway. “We’re happy with the progress, but we are still aware that there are a few major thoroughfares that are in heavy construction. Parts of Reynoir, Croesus, Elder and Walker are seeing major storm drainage work, which was added due to design errors, and we had to pull off Benachi for a period to coordinate with the Keesler gate contractor on Forrest.”

Meantime, south of the CSX railway, Hemphill Construction is overseeing work on about eight miles of neighborhood streets stretching from Caillavet to Seashore Manor.

Hemphill’s Jack Gratwick said deep sewer work continues on Benachi south of Howard, with storm drainage crews also working on St. Francis, paving crews on Father Ryan and rock crews working on Azalea, preparing the street for pavement.

 Although the Hemphill work does not cover as broad an area as the Oscar Renda work, it does involve such major thoroughfares as Irish Hill, Porter, White Avenue and others.

Said Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich: “We’ve said all along that we were going to work to minimize the inconvenience and wholesale disruption in the work we’re doing south of the railway. But the fact is, anytime you do major work like this, there’s going to be inconvenience, in some cases major inconvenience. We’re continue to push for progress and picking up the pace.”
Video: A five-minute update on progress
See detailed maps of status of both projects

News & notes: Podcast, council, traffic

Podcast: Deputy Chief Nicholaus Geiser of the Biloxi Fire Training Division and the city’s Emergency Manager is the guest on this week’s City Desk podcast. To listen to the program, click here.

Council: Members of the Biloxi Council face a host of issues on Tuesday at Biloxi City Hall with a public hearing at 5 p.m. regarding a request for a zoning change for a neighborhood development followed by a regular scheduled meeting at 6 p.m. To see the agendas, click here.

Traffic:  To see the latest traffic advisories and road closures, click here.