Mayor speaks to issues of Spring Break 2017

Here is the text of Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich’s remarks about Spring Break and the city’s plans to facilitate special events of the future. The remarks were made to the Biloxi City Council at the outset of the City Council meeting on April 18, 2017.  

(To see video of the remarks, click here.)

You have heard me talk about my vision and image for Biloxi as being “safe, friendly and beautiful.”

Spring Break weekend, April 7-9, was far from safe, friendly and beautiful for our citizens and visitors. We cannot and will not have a repeat of what was experienced. 

Understand that the City of Biloxi does not officially “host” Spring Break.  It has been coming to the Coast for a number of years.  It’s had a positive economic impact to hotels, motels, restaurants and other businesses.  We have been able to deal with “the traffic and the trash” in the past years. 

From the after-action reports,  crowds increased from estimated 35,000 in 2016, to about 60,000 in 2017. That’s about a 70 percent increase.  However,  calls for service to the Biloxi Police Department increased from 323 in 2016, to 1,096 in 2017. That’s about a 300 percent increase. The types of calls for service indicate that a “bad behavior” element was added to “traffic and trash.”

A conclusion can be drawn that Biloxi and its infrastructure may have reached capacity.  We will take necessary corrective actions. And we will not tolerate “unacceptable behavior” from anyone.

We are developing surveys for our citizens and the business community – in that order – to get their firsthand experiences and recommendations. We don’t want generalizations. We want definitive feedback from those who were there.

I will be working with the City Council to craft any necessary updates to our city ordinances to help us better facilitate future events,  whether they be Spring Break, Cruisin’ the Coast, or Scrapin’ the Coast. As host of these events, we will ask the Mississippi Coast Coliseum staff for assistance in communicating our expectations to those sponsoring events in our community.

Everyone is welcome to Biloxi. We ask for respect for our community, our laws and our residents. We DO have a reputation of being safe, friendly and beautiful. That’s our brand. That’s why 5.7 million people visit Biloxi and the Gulf Coast each year. Our visitors expect to have a good time when they come here, but that good time cannot be at anyone’s expense.

 That’s our goal, and I know we can do it.