MLK events take center stage this weekend

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. parade has gained a reputation over the years in Biloxi for having a top-notch lineup of marching bands, and this year the MLK Coastwide speakers program will also boast star power.

Brandi Harvey, daughter of superstar game show host and radio personality Steve Harvey, speaks Sunday in a “Creating Change” Inspirational Service at the Biloxi Civic Center. Harvey, “chief change maker” of the Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation will be the keynote speaker at the free gathering.

Of course it’s the MLK parade, which takes place Monday in downtown Biloxi, that attracts legions. This year’s parade, with the theme “Changing the Beat,” begins at the Dr. Frank Gruich Community Center on Howard Avenue, travels west on Howard, around MLK Boulevard and back onto Howard, turns north on Caillavet, then east on Esters Boulevard before ending at Busch Park.

“The parade will have about 40 to 50 elements in it,” said Maj. Jim Adamo of the Biloxi Police Department. “Although there are no college bands this year, there are three or four outstanding high school bands. We’re looking for great weather, and a great turnout, and it will all culminate with a gathering at Busch Park, which will end about 5 p.m.”

The Sunday program and Monday parade are but two events in a month-long MLK celebration that also includes a symposium on Saturday at the Hancock Bank in downtown Biloxi, a Thursday night program at the Saenger Theater and a Biloxi Little Theater production of “A Raisin in the Sun” that launches Jan. 27.

“This weekend and all of these events are an appreciation and celebration for what Dr. King did in getting the country framed as American people, not as a collection of separate people,” said longtime community leader James Crowell, who has been head of the Biloxi branch of the NAACP for three decades. “Dr. King believed that blacks, whites and all races should hold hands and be together, treated equally. And this weekend is a celebration of the sacrifices that he made in order for us to enjoy the freedoms that we do.”
See the overall MLK lineup


Safety check, it’s only a phone call away

Biloxi residents who are either alone or feel vulnerable can get a daily “Are You OK?” phone call from the Biloxi Police Department.

The system, known as RUOK, is a free service offered to citizens in Biloxi who request a telephone safety check.  The service helps by providing a reassurance call to check on the safety of an elderly, medically disabled or homebound person.

“They can feel a sense of security and caring just knowing a daily call will come,” Biloxi Police Capt. Larry Murphy said.  “It helps to take the fear out of being alone.”

Police are seeking to boost the current lineup of 14 residents in the program. Participants receive a call from either a dispatcher or an automated system at a time designated by the participant. The program will then prompt the participant with a particular response.  If no response or an incorrect response is given, a police officer will be sent to the home to check on the participant’s well-being. 

“A resident can sign up to be called at any time of day or night,” Biloxi Dispatcher Angie Myrick said.  “And if the person will be away from the home during the time of the call for an appointment or if a family member picks them up to go on vacation, all they have to do is to let us know and we will remove them from the call list while they are gone.”  

To sign up for the RUOK program, call the Biloxi Police Department Community Relations Division at 228-385-3033 or click on the link.
RUOK application packet


News and notes

Hegwood-Cintgran reunion photos: Dozens of graduates of Notre Dame High School gathered this afternoon at the site of their alma mater to reminisce about the storied days of two legendary Rebel high school coaches, Charles R. Hegwood and Tony Cintgran. To see the photos, click here.

Weekend preview: LeAnne Rimes performs at the Beau Rivage, Earl Thomas Conley will be at the Hard Rock, and Ray Stevens presents his comedic songs to an audience at the IP. To see a complete weekend lineup, click here.

Podcasting: This week’s City Desk Podcast makes note of the upcoming State of the City presentation, discusses the R.U.O.K. Program, and previews some of the Parks & Recreation Department events and sports.  To listen, click here.

Hiller Park Pavilion:  The outdoor pavilion at the north end of Hiller Park will reopen on Monday.  The pavilion was temporarily closed due to maintenance.  For more information on reserving the pavilion, call the Parks & Recreation office at 228-388-7170.

Start Smart registration:  Registration begins on Tuesday at the Parks & Recreation office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Start Smart Baseball program.  The program teaches children, ages 3 to 6, the basic skills of baseball.  To see the flyer, click here.

Special Needs Kickball:  The Parks & Recreation Department begins its Special Needs Kickball on Tuesday at Barbara Ferrill Softball Fields.  Open to all ages with mental and physical disabilities, games are free and played from 6 to 8 Tuesday nights. To see the flyer, click here.

City Council meeting: The Biloxi City Council meets Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at Biloxi City Hall. To see the agenda for the meeting, which is open to the public, click here.

Offices closed: Non-emergency municipal offices in Biloxi will be closed Monday.