Police: Pokemon players should practice prudence

The Pokemon Go craze, which has attracted a steady stream of mobile game players to the Biloxi Lighthouse, hit a zenith last night when dozens of players gathered at 2 a.m. on the lawn of the Biloxi Visitors Center.

The lighthouse, the city’s signature landmark, has become a local focal point of the location-based reality mobile game, where players capture, battle, and train virtual Pok√©mon who appear throughout the real world. The game uses a phone or tablet’s GPS and camera features. Free to play, the¬†game supports in-app purchases of additional gameplay items.

Biloxi Police, leary of nationwide protests involving police incidents, were aware of the Pokemon game but were initially taken aback by the turnout of players at the Biloxi Lighthouse, one of the sites in the game.

Dozens of smartphone-carrying players have gathered in the center median at the lighthouse at various times over the last several days, and last night, at 2 a.m., game players gathered on the front lawn of the Visitors Center.

Police Chief John Miller, who had been alerted to the game by the department’s Intelligence Unit more than a week ago, said he views the game as “good, clean fun.”

“It’s getting people out and doing things,” Miller said. “But what we would do is caution people to be careful. In some cases they’re paying more attention to their communications devices than their surroundings.

“There have been robberies in places across the country involving people playing this game.

“Our message is this: Be aware of your surroundings. Be careful as you’re walking and watching your communications device. By all means, if you find yourself going into an area that you think might not be safe, then back out. It’s not worth it.”

The Biloxi Lighthouse, on the other hand, is highly visible and well lit, Miller said. “So far, it’s been a focal point for the game. It’s a good safe, well-lit location. We try to keep a police presence there, but, again, people need to be aware of their surroundings.

“Game players need¬†to be aware that they are in the middle of a major highway, and motorists need to be aware of the pedestrians.

“Other than that, we want people to have a good and safe time, which is what Biloxi is all about.”
See a photo gallery of Pokemon images at the Lighthouse
See a list of Gulf Coast Pokemon sites
Read a Wiki primer on the game


New splash pad to open in Sunkist area

Biloxians will get their third city-operated splash pad this week, with the opening of a splash pad adjacent to the Margaret S. Sherry Memorial Library.

City and county leaders will gather Friday morning at 10:30 to christen the new summertime attraction.

“I am very happy that Harrison County is able to give this recreational opportunity to the children and residents of this community,” said Harrison County Supervisor Connie Rockco. The county provided nearly $25,000 in material and labor to construct the pad, which measures¬†64 x 48 feet. It features ¬†features water hoops, a blaster and dumping buckets.¬† It will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“The splash pad adds to the family-orientated experience we have at the Popp’s Ferry Recreational Area,” said City of Biloxi Parks and Recreation Director Cheryl Bell. “We are excited for this addition and have already received positive support and feedback from the community for the splash pad.”

Other city-operated splash pads are at Point Cadet Plaza and John Henry Beck Park. The county also constructed a splash pad in Woolmarket, off Old Woolmarket Road.

“We know these splash pads are an economical way to have fun in the summer,” said Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. “We also realize that there’s a need to build more of them throughout the city. We appreciate the county’s involvement on this and other efforts, and we’re certainly interested in seeing more constructed throughout the city.”
See the flyer
See pictures of the progress