BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Derrick Foster, a local organizer for Black Spring Break, says the coast could see between 40 to 50,000 college students the weekend of April 15-18. Word is spreading fast on social media sites like Facebook.
"We want the students to come out, enjoy the beach, hang out and enjoy some of the activities that are already taking place on the coast, such as the Crawfish Festival," Foster told WLOX News. "We don't have specific events planned, but we want them to come out and have a good time, but do it responsibly."
Foster and Stephen Jones, a man out of Birmingham, Alabama, make up Pinnacle Promotions, the group organizing the event. Foster said the events they've planned for college students will take place at night at local clubs and venues. They don't have any planned events on the beach or at specifics sites in coast cities, so Foster said they won't be asking for permits.
One major concern is traffic. So Foster is asking students to stay within a certain area.
"We're asking people to stay in the area from Debuys Road to the Biloxi Bay Bridge so police will have a better idea of where we will be. I plan to call and work with police," Foster said.
Biloxi Police Chief John Miller hosted a coast-wide meeting for officers Wednesday afternoon planning for the possibility of this event. He said coast law enforcement is already mapping out the best plan to avoid traffic gridlock or any other concerns.
"The first thing we would do, if we knew for a fact we would have an influx of people, is let the public know as far in advance as we could. It's not going to affect our plans. We have a plan for any type of major influx of people, and we'd just go back to our normal plans," Miller said.
Those plans would include, among other things, putting extra officers on the streets to help with traffic and keeping a lane of traffic open on Highway 90 for emergency vehicles.
As for criticism about the event not being well organized, Foster said he feels the influx of college students is something the coast area can handle.
"We want to draw the college kids to this area. This is an area that should already be equipped to do something like this because people from all around the world congregate here for resort purposes. We're hoping that everyone is going to make the Mississippi Gulf Coast their home for spring break 2010, and we're remaining positive about it."
Foster said they will collect money for Haiti relief at Friday night's event.
Following our interview, Foster said he planned to call Chief John Miller with Biloxi police Thursday morning to fill him in on his group's plans for Black Spring Break. But as of 10:45am Thursday morning, Chief Miller said he still had not heard from Foster.
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