“The Last Ride” attracts capacity crowds to Saenger

The Saenger Theater hosted near-capacity crowds Saturday and Sunday for “The Last Ride,” a documentary and motion picture that chronicled singer Hank Williams Sr.’s love affair with Biloxi and his tragic life.

“We had essentially sold-out shows Saturday night and Sunday afternoon,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway. “It was a great event, and it says something about how many people remember that era of Biloxi’s past, when we had legendary entertainers spending time here and getting to know our local residents.”

Crowds that approached the Saenger’s 945-seat capacity turned out for each of the performances, which were among the last engagements in the theater before a federally-funded interior restoration begins.

Audiences at the Main Street-coordinated event were shown a 10-minute Mississppi Public Broadcasting documentary about Hank Williams Sr.’s frequent visits to Biloxi, and a new motion picture about the last three days of his life, “The Last Ride.”

Additionally, Hank Williams Sr. look-alike Gerald Songe greeted audiences in the Saenger lobby, and performed a song at each of the engagements.

Among those in the audience were members of the families of the late Sie Simon and Yankie Barhanovich, two Biloxians who befriended Williams during his Biloxi visits and promoted his performances here.

Said Mayor Holloway: “It was a just a great weekend, for newcomers in our community, for the families of Yankie and Sie, and for those who were a part of that era. The way we blended this national movie with and our connection to Hank made it all very special for the people of Biloxi and the Gulf Coast.

“We thank everyone who helped make this such a success.”

See the photos: To see nearly a hundred photos from Saturday and Sunday, click here.