Fred Haise: From Biloxi to the moon – and back

Apollo 13 astronaut and Biloxi native Fred Haise has received numerous awards during his storied career, including a Presidential Medal of Freedom, and he says the ones that mean the most to him are those that come from pilots or test pilots, his peers.

And some of his most-cherished peers – family and friends from his days of growing up in Biloxi – will gather April 10-11 when Fred is in town to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 13.

“This one,” Fred said, “hits close to home.” Actually, it IS home.

Mississippi Power in conjunction with the Mississippi Development Authority, the City of Biloxi and others are planning a two-day celebration and commemoration to honor Fred.

On Friday, April 10, a Fred Haise banquet will be held at the Biloxi Civic Center, where Fred will speak during the 6 p.m. affair. Tickets, at $25 each, are on sale now at the Biloxi Visitors Center or online.

Then on Saturday, April 11, at 1:13 – 13:13 in military parlance – the exact time 50 years to the day that Apollo 13 launched, Fred and a host of others will gather south of the Biloxi Lighthouse, to unveil The Launching Pad, a replica of the base of a Saturn V rocket. A statue of Fred, now being created by local sculptor Mary Ott Tremmel Davidson, will be unveiled at the site this time next year, and the boardwalk along the beachfront from Porter Avenue to Benachi, will be reshaped and known as The Moonwalk.

“That episode back in April 1970 is huge in the annals of history,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said. “It captured the attention of the entire world, and to think that someone from Biloxi was right in the middle of it and performed so remarkably under such pressure is tremendous. Fred made this city, this state and this country very proud, and now we’re going to make sure we commemorate this event in a fitting manner.”
Buy banquet tickets online
See the lineup for Fred Haise weekend
Video: “Making Space for Fred”

News & notes: Saenger, CTA, home cookin’, City Desk

Saenger: Temporary fencing is now cordoning off part of the parking lot immediately north at the Saenger Theatre and scaffolding will begin going up by the end of the month as Blackline, a Gulfport-based contractor, launches a 300-day project to repair and restore the exterior of the fabled theater. A re-opening date for the downtown showplace has not yet been announced.

CTA: The City Council has called a special meeting for Tuesday at noon to discuss whether to fully fund Coast Transit Authority’s public transit services in Biloxi. The noon meeting, which is open to the public, prefaces the council’s 1:30 meeting Tuesday afternoon. To see background on the CTA-city funding issue, click here.

Home cookin’: Jeffrey Compton, an Auburn chef with Biloxi connections, will be one of eight chefs competing for a chance to run a $10 million Vegas strip restaurant when the Food Network unveils a new series, “Vegas Chef Prizefight,” tonight at 9. Councilman Kenny Glavan touted his nephew during the City Council meeting on Tuesday. See the councilmember’s comments by clicking here.

City Desk: Issues du jour are front and center on this week’s City Desk podcast. To listen to the program, click here.