Police chief: Let’s make it a safe Fourth of July

Biloxi Police Chief Bruce Dunagan says he hopes that residents and visitors enjoy Fourth of July festivities Tuesday, and that they keep common-sense rules in mind during the celebration.

Biloxi’s annual fireworks presentation is expected to begin at 9 p.m. Tuesday and will be presented from a barge off the beach near Deer Island. The show is expected to run from 16 to 22 minutes.

“The biggest concerns we have from a public safety standpoint involve fireworks,” Dunagan said. “Fireworks are believed to have caused a major brush fire over the weekend off Highway 67. That situation could have been much worse considering the dry conditions we’re in right now.”

The sale or use of fireworks is illegal within the city limits, Dunagan said, “However, people have traditionally used fireworks on the sand beach, which is supervised by the county. If they are intent on using fireworks, we ask them to do it at the water’s edge, that children have adult supervision, and that the fireworks are aimed over the water. The right thing to do, however, is avoid using fireworks altogether and just enjoy the community fireworks show.”

Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver noted that three areas of the beach in Biloxi are open to the public: between the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and Casino Row; at White Avenue, and near Rodenberg Avenue. Weaver said he expects members of the Audubon Society to be on hand to help protect a least tern nesting area just west of Casino Row.

Those planning to visit the beachfront to view the fireworks are reminded to park only in designated parking bays – and not in unpaved areas or in the center median of U.S. 90.

“People should be aware that more pedestrians will be on and near the beach Tuesday,” Dunagan said. “They should be extra cautious and obey any law enforcement officers they encounter. We’ll have extra patrols out to help keep traffic moving safely. And by all means, those attending the fireworks show should respect private property when looking for a parking place, and make sure not to block the roadways.

“We want people to have a fun Fourth, but above all else, we want it to be a safe one.”