Parade chief: Be respectful of floats, be patient

Biloxi Police Sgt. Frank McKeny has worked every Mardi Gras parade in Biloxi since he joined the department in 1998, which he admits is a short time compared to some officers in the BPD. But, nonetheless, McKeny has picked up a thing or two from working parades, particularly since 2004, when he was named the department’s point person on carnival operations.

McKeny’s No. 1 piece of advice for those headed to this weekend’s parades or on Tuesday in Biloxi: Don’t approach a float. “People actually try to touch the darned thing,” he declared. “It’s a 40,000-pound item being pulled down the road. It’s not going to be able to stop on a dime, and people are looking up, not at their feet, so it’s very easy to fall and be injured by a float.”

Other advice McKeny wants paradegoers to remember:

Be patient, particularly in the drive home after the parade. Said McKeny: “Everyone knew going in that there would be delays, but then no one wants to be the next guy stopped, so they get two inches off the bumper of the car in front of them. Just be patient. If you relieve some of your stress, you’ll relieve the stress of everyone around you.”

And, finally, McKeny adds, some advice for those with children: “It’s easy for us to lose track of children when they’re scrambling to find Mardi Gras beads. Pay extra attention to your children. Make sure that they know to speak to the nearest law enforcement officer if they are lost. Be able to tell an officer what your child is wearing, and make sure your child can tell the officer what you are wearing.”

Read the tips: To see the Biloxi Police Department’s safety tips for before, during and after the parade, click here.

Miller time: Biloxi Police Chief John Miller will discuss Mardi Gras during a segment of “WLOX News This Week,” airing Saturday at 6 p.m.

Weekend preview: Parades and more

A host of parades dominates the weekend, along with musical performances by Bryan Austin, Michael Grimm, Kellie Pickler, Fuel and others, plus you’ll find community theater fare.

To see the complete weekend lineup,
click here.

Webcasting: Inside the Biloxi Fire Department

Biloxi Fire Chief David Roberts discusses the department’s response to the house fire this week where two children were revived, and the veteran fire leader also provides insight into the department’s operations on this week’s City Desk webcast. To listen to the 18-minute program, click here.

Natatorium hosts 400 swimmers for state championships

The Biloxi Elite Swim Team is hosting the Mississippi Swimming Short Course State Championships today through Sunday, with more than 400 swimmers from throughout the state competing.

There is no admission fee for spectators.

Competition begins with preliminaries at 8:30 a.m. each day, with the the top 16 swimmers in each event returning about 5 p.m. for the final session each day.

Among those represented in the meet are the Biloxi Elite Swim Team; the Mississippi Makos of Jackson; Hub Fins of Hattiesburg; Delta Aquatic Club, which swims at Delta State University; and the Shock Wave Aquatic Club, which includes swimmers from Tupelo, Oxford and Starkville.

To read more about the meet, courtesy of the Sun Herald, click here.

Mardi Gras 2012, by the numbers

Drive the city’s 2.7-mile parade route today and here’s what you’ll see, according to Joey Miller, the Mardi Gras ramrod in the city’s Public Works Department:

— 1,400 steel barricades, each measuring eight feet and weighing 65 pounds.

— 150 rolls of 100-foot-long orange temporary fencing

— 1,000 feet of caution tape

— 425 orange traffic cones, which includes 225 cones that stand four-feet high and 200 cones that stand 24 inches tall.

— 50 wooden barricades.

And, of course, on Tuesday, you can add tens of thousands of people to the mix.

News and notes

Black History Month: Those attending the Black History Month observance next week will have two chances to see the Tuskegee Airmen — in person and on screen, too. For details, click here.

Blighted TV: Jerry Creel, the city’s Community Development Director, will discuss the ongoing efforts to rid Biloxi of blighted properties during a segment of “WLOX News This Week,” airing Saturday at 6 p.m.

Senior Games: The Senior Games will take place April 10-14, offering a menu of activities for the 50-plus age bracket. For details, click here.

City Council: The Biloxi City Council’s next scheduled meeting is Tuesday, Feb. 28.

Grow Smart: Parents of children up to age 5 should be interested in two of the upcoming Grow Smart programs. The first focuses on the child’s classroom development and the second offers a chance for your youngster to learn the basics of basketball. To read more information on the two programs — which are free for Biloxi residents — click here.