Wet weather puts damper on Memorial Day business - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Wet weather puts damper on Memorial Day business

Ship Island Excursions had a good weekend in terms of revenue. (Photo source: WLOX News) Ship Island Excursions had a good weekend in terms of revenue. (Photo source: WLOX News)
Wut Sup Paddle Boards and Rentals business in Gulfport took a hit this Memorial Day. (Photo source: WLOX News) Wut Sup Paddle Boards and Rentals business in Gulfport took a hit this Memorial Day. (Photo source: WLOX News)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Monday's downpours brought a dreary end to the Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally launches the summer tourism season. The beaches, parks and other outdoor attractions are usually packed on Memorial Day, but not this year. Despite the wet weather, several business owners said this holiday hasn't been a total wash out.

Dan Wittmann owns Wut Sup Paddle boards and Rentals in Gulfport. He was getting ready to take a group out on a paddle board tour on Memorial Day when suddenly, the skies opened up.

"The rain was coming in and the lightning was popping. We had a lot of electricity in the air and when we have electricity, we can't send people out. It's too dangerous, so we had to cancel that unfortunately," said Wittmann.

Wittmann said the cancellations kept piling up, so much that business dropped 300-percent compared to Memorial Day last year.

"It's not good, especially if they've driven a long way sometimes to come out and paddle with us," said Wittmann. "I was hoping for today to kind of round the Memorial weekend and start the summer off with a good bang."

Steven Skrmetta also had to turn customers away. He's the co-owner of Ship Island Excursions in Gulfport. Skrmetta said the captain tried to take a group of 70-people out at 9:00 AM, but lightning forced him to turn around.

"It's disappointing. I mean, we took them out for a cruise so they got a little bit of excitement. We're disappointed too, but they understand. Safety is first in our business," said Skrmetta.

The noon trip was also canceled. Ricky Ferguson and his fiancee were hoping to take their two children on their first trip to the island.

"It's kind of a sad day. We were planning on coming up here, but the weather kind of put a damper on things," said Ricky Ferguson of Hancock County.

There was one bright spot on this holiday. Business was brisk Saturday and Sunday. Ship Island Excursions had nearly 2,000 customers over the weekend.

"We had a good beginning to the weekend, that's the main thing," said Skrmetta.

"It has not been a total washout. We were not where we were for Memorial Day last year, but we have had some people coming through the doors this weekend. Hopefully, we'll have a good dry summer," said Wittmann.

WLOX News also talked to several other business owners to find out how the rain has affected them. At Big Play Family Fun Center in Biloxi, the owner reported that business was off by 75-percent. And the president of the "Charter Boat Captain's Association" said bookings dropped by 50-percent.

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