Memorial weekend crowds making a splash in Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Another day of sunshine is on tap for Memorial Day weekend vacationers.  And that should mean large crowds at most of south Mississippi's tourist destinations.  The highlight of Sunday's Memorial Day fun should be in Pascagoula, where the Gulf Coast Symphony performs another patriotic concert, this time at Beach Park.

On Saturday, boat launches were crowded.  And the parking lot at Ship Island Excursions was jammed with cars.

Folks in the tourism business are looking for Memorial Day Weekend to draw in big numbers, and that certainly doesn't seem to be a problem in Gulfport. We stopped by two areas that are using their unique facilities to draw in the crowds.

"The Sportsplex has the softball tournament going on, the hotels are full, the restaurants are full, and clearly we're packed out. It's just a great place to be on a hot summer day," said Gulf Islands Water Park General Manager Mike Moore.

It's no secret we're in the middle of a drought, and the Gulf Islands Water Park is using that to bring in people thirsting for some cool fun.

"We appreciate the fact that everyone's watering grass because so are we.  But, the water's cool and it's a great place to be," said Moore.

The water park knows a thing or two about attracting crowds. When the oil spill crippled most tourism spots, the water park saw so many visitors they were able to add a new slide this season.  The park also kicked off Memorial Day by hosting Nickelodeon celebrity Nathan Kress.

"We've had a strong start to the summer. It's a long way from now to the end. The type of summer that we're experiencing right now with the crowds all across the wave pool and filling the slides, it's the type of excitement you want to see in the beginning of the year," said Moore.

Down the road at the sports complex, crowds are also out for the United States Fastpitch Memorial Day Tournament.  Eighty teams from five states, and their fans, have literally booked up Gulfport.

"Every hotel in town is booked up. I would have had more teams but the pulled out because they didn't have the hotel space," said United States Fastpitch Association Vice President Jeff Strode.

From the fast action diamond to the lazy river, Memorial Day Weekend is delivering as promised for these facilities. Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.