Father's Day on the coast - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Father's Day on the coast

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For Willie Hughes Sr., the perfect father's day get-a-way included a trip to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  He came to the coast with his wife and two granddaughters  from Madison, MS.

"We wanted to make sure we actually came down and supported the Gulf," says Hughes.

Hughes says he realizes the impact a struggling tourism industry can have on the state's economic stability.

"I'm appealing to all Mississippians and just everyone.   If they want to go on vacation, I know the economy's bad but if they're planning to take a vacation this year , they should spend it on the coast," Hughes says.

At the Edgewater Inn in Biloxi, hotel workers say people are starting to get that message.  Worker Pam Goldsack says hotel occupancy was better than expected this father's day weekend.  

"We have been having a lot of people from in state  staying here, as well as from Louisiana and Alabama.

Goldsack says this year there has been an upswing  in regional visitors compared to last year.  She sees these numbers as the start of another effort underway.

"Everybody down South is kind of joining each other to help each other out," says Goldsack.  

Hughes says those who live in the central and northern parts of the state should lead by example to get more  people coming to the coast.  

"If we can rally as a state, I think we can get the other part of the country to also look at Mississippi and Louisiana and say we're going to come and support them also," Hughes says.

In neighboring Alabama, Governor Bob Riley showed his support for tourism by becoming one himself this father's day weekend.  He spent the holiday weekend at Gulf Shores with his wife and four grandchildren.

Riley says he knows tourists are worried about the oil.  But, he says there's still plenty to enjoy on the coast.

"Now, we know that we're going to continue to have some challenges for a while.   But, the only way you can truly appreciate all the unaffected areas is to come down," says Riley.

Sunday actually marks the 100th anniversary of Father's Day.  Sonora Smart Dodd started the celebration in Spokane, Washington, to honor of her father.  He raised six children, including Sonora, after her mother died in child birth.

Father's day was all about fun for those who stopped by the coast coliseum for the summer fair.  The Rushing family of Long Beach had three generations of Rushing men at the fair, grandpa Daniel Sr., son Daniel Jr. and one and year old Daniel the III.  They were joined by their wives, children and grandchildren.

And the appreciation for dad goes far beyond this one day.

It's something you want to take into heart and stretch out as long as you can," says Daniel Rushing Jr.

Marissa and Matthew Wingerter came to the summer fair with their dad Ricky.  For them it's the little things that make dad a cut above the rest.

"He likes playing with us.  We played monkey in the middle today," says Matthew Wingerter.

It was President Richard Nixon who signed father's day into law in 1972 making it an official holiday.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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