BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Noon hour traffic at the Forrest Avenue gate at Keesler is usually heavy. Imagine how congested it will get this Saturday and Sunday, when an estimated 70,000 people jam the air force base to watch Thunder on the Bay roar into action.
"Be patient. There will be some large crowds," said Thunderbirds Project Officer Mark Sheldon.
Those large crowds will be looking for limited places to park. The only off-base parking site is at the old Oak Park housing property off Bayview Avenue in Biloxi.
"Once you get parked, we're going to have a staging area where buses are going to pick folks up and deliver them right to entry control points here at the airfield," said Sheldon.
Once Oak Park fills up, Keesler will open up its on-base parking site at Pine Haven. Any overflow traffic will be directed to the IP Casino parking area under the I-110. There will be a separate gate and area designated for handicapped parking. Extra Biloxi Police officers will be on duty to help move the cars along.
"We have traffic guys on the traffic points, try to assist people to get into the parking areas to be shuttled to the locations on Keesler Air Force Base as quickly as possible," said Biloxi Police Officer Darrell Montiforte.
If you want to avoid all the traffic headaches and parking hassles, there is another option. All you have to do is park your car at the Edgewater Mall garage and hop on the Coast Transit Authority bus. It'll take you to the base. And the best part is the ride is free. Three CTA buses will be picking-up passengers every 20 minutes.
"We think it's a low stress way to get over there and park and get away from all that traffic and enjoy a really short bus ride," said CTA Director Kevin Coggin.
If you do decide to drive, police urge you to arrive as early as possible and park legally.
"If you do park in some of the housing areas, make sure you park properly," said Montiforte. "We don't want people parking in front of people's driveways, fire hydrants and so forth. It's going to cause a parking hazard for somebody else."
Boat traffic on the Biloxi Back Bay will be restricted before and during the Keesler Air Show and Open House. The water zone near Keesler will be closed during certain hours from Thursday through Sunday.