Holiday weekend could bring big crowds to the coast

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A four day Fourth of July weekend begins today.  And folks in the tourism industry are predicting big crowds this weekend. Last year, the normally busy Fourth of July holiday was tarnished by the impact of the oil spill.

Not so this year. There are certainly plenty of positive signs this day before the official start of the long holiday weekend: Busy beaches, boat trips and families enjoying some South Mississippi hospitality. All point to a promising holiday weekend.

Families are already flocking to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for a relaxing weekend.

"A quick getaway. Close by," was how Jim Parish of Florence, Mississippi described the upcoming coast weekend with his wife and kids.

That's why the Parish family made the short drive south from Florence, Mississippi.

We caught up with them boarding the "Sailfish" for the Biloxi Shrimp Trip.

"Kids have never been here. The wife and I have probably been ten plus years, if not more," he said.

"The beach. Just relaxing and enjoying the scenery. Just getting away from home for awhile,"
 said his wife, Jodi.

Following last year's unwanted interruption from the oil spill, Biloxi Cruise Company has been enjoying a great summer so far. And numbers look good for the upcoming weekend.

"We're going to be packed out. We actually offered a fireworks cruise Monday night and are booked up already. Been booked up for a week and a half now. And we've been getting lots of calls for this weekend," said Brandy Moore with the Biloxi Cruise Company.

Plenty of folks will be soaking up Fourth of July sun on the beach this weekend. Don Irwin hit the sand shortly after his 14 hour drive from up north.

"Well, this is nice. Yeah, we have nothing up there in Indiana like this," said Irwin.

While the 26 miles of sand beach might be the biggest attraction for tourists this holiday weekend, we also found plenty of visitors in the market for fresh seafood.

While fishermen aboard the "Miss Kim" loaded ice for another shrimping trip, plenty of visitors lined up to fill their coolers with fresh shrimp.

"Picking up some shrimp. We're glad to see that the shrimp are in. So we're going to take those back to Central Mississippi," said Jackie Etie of Decatur, Mississippi.

"We went to Ship Island. And we've come over to get the shrimp. We went to New Orleans yesterday. And we've been fishing at his house, taking it easy," said Oklahoma City visitor, Steve Wells.

All signs point to a busy tourism weekend. Hotel operators are expecting a "good" weekend, but there are still plenty of vacancies.

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