Coliseum’s spring break weekend has quiet kickoff

The launch of spring break at the Coast Coliseum on Thursday night, a concert tour billed as “Gulf Coast Spring Break Jump Off Featuring Rick Ross,” attracted only about 1,400 people, according to Biloxi Police Chief John Miller, with minimal traffic issues, save eight cars that were towed for improper parking south of U.S. 90 near the beachfront venue.

The Coliseum, according to online listings, will host eight hours of entertainment, including a “swim wear affair” and spring break dance Saturday from 3 to 11 p.m., with $15 wristbands allowing festgoers to re-enter the Coliseum. Coliseum director Bill Holmes said the swim wear affair would not be a bikini contest, despite online reports and advertisements. All events would be inside the Coliseum, he added.

Police Chief Miller, meantime, said officers will work to avoid the snarled traffic that has historically marked major events. The Coliseum contract for the event said as many as 500 people could be expected.

“We’re hoping everyone enjoys the weekend and has a good time, and is respectful of other drivers and the speed limits and parking regulations,” Miller said. “It’s the same attitude that we have for all of our major events, whether it’s Mardi Gras, Cruisin’ the Coast, St. Patrick’s Day or whatever. We’re used to big crowds and heavy traffic, as long as it keeps moving and is orderly.”

Miller said officers had warned concertgoers Thursday evening that the beachfront parking bays would close at 10 p.m. The concert — which was originally scheduled to end at 11 p.m. and could attract an audience of as many as 4,000, according to the Coliseum’s event contract — ended at midnight. Eight vehicles were towed shortly after 10:30 p.m. for improper parking.

As part of its Cruisin’ and spring break traffic plans, the city is prepared to close turning bays at key points on U.S. 90 to reduce traffic congestion. In extreme cases, traffic is routed from U.S. 90 to I-110 and northward to I-10 before being allowed to return to U.S. 90.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation throughout the weekend,” Miller said. “As part of our plan, traffic barricades have been pre-positioned should we need them. Everyone is aware of the traffic plan, and should we have to phase it in, we’ll certainly work to make folks aware of that.

“But the bottom line is that we’re looking for everyone to have a good time with minimal inconveniences to the motoring public.”

Weekend preview: Community theater, concerts at casino resorts and more

Spring break is merely one of the myriad offerings in the weekend entertainment lineup.

You’ll also find “The Odd Couple” at Center Stage; an evening of Titanic proportions of the Redding House in downtown Biloxi; and concerts by Boyz II Men (IP), Gladys Knight (Beau Rivage), KC & the Sunshine Band (Hard Rock), the Roots and Boots Tour with Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Toippin and Joe Diffie (IP), and Keith Sweat (Hard Rock), and free shows at the Isle and Treasure Bay.

To see the overall entertainment lineup, as compiled by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, click here.

News and notes

Auction: Don’t forget the city’s massive auction of surplus and forfeited vehicles, boats, motors, jewelry, electronics and more on Saturday morning at the impound yard on Popp’s Ferry Road. For details on the event, which carries a $10 admission fee, click here.

Chances to Excel: Parents of children ages 5 and younger have three Excel by 5 programs available to them now — and all are free for Biloxi residents. To read about Grow Smart, Start Smart and the Countdown to Kindergarten Readiness Fair,
click here.

Council preview: Several high profile issues — acquiring property to expand Lighthouse Park and Visitors Center site westward, acquiring right of way to improve Howard Avenue towards Point Cadet, and an appeal of a denial to allow development on Deer Island — are on the council’s agenda for Tuesday. To see the complete agenda for the 1:30 p.m. meeting and a re-disticting meeting afterward, click here.