Coliseum Crews Race To Get Ready For MGCCC Graduation, Presidential Visit

Workers at the Coast Coliseum have only eight days left to prepare for a historic commencement ceremony.

Next Thursday, the Coliseum will host its first graduation this year. It will also be the first ever with the President of the United States as the speaker.

Crews have been working around the clock ever since they heard the President would speak to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College graduates.

As you know, Hurricane Katrina flooded the Coliseum and destroyed just about everything inside. So getting the arena ready for such a huge event is no easy task.

"I'm just pushing the crews, real, real hard," Coliseum Director Bill Holmes said.

Afterall, the coliseum has no restrooms right now.

"We can't put toilets in without flush valves, and the flush valves are hung up in California."

And 400 seats must be installed.

"Right now, they're finishing up the job, which is pretty massive."

A massive job because Katrina flooded the building with six feet of water. Holmes' crew is scrambling to get the coliseum ready for next Thursday's community college graduation featuring a very special guest - President George W. Bush.

"We may have 2,000 more people, 3,000 more people maybe, that want to come because the president's going to be here," Holmes said. "That puts pressure on restrooms. It puts pressure on parking areas."

"It's not a normal Gulf Coast graduation," MGCCC Spokesman Bill Snyder said. "When you bring in the President, you got a whole realm of things going on, so I think it's going to be a miracle if we pull this thing off."

One of the toughest challenges is making sure the arena is spic and span before the guests arrive. So this Saturday, 20 people will start the clean-up. It's a process that could take at least three days.

While the scenery won't be perfect and only half the bathrooms will be working, everyone is sure the graduation will be a memorable ceremony.

"We'll make it all work," Holmes said. "We're very excited that the president is coming. We're very excited that the graduations are going to go on."

The ceremony starts at 2:00pm on May 11th and everyone who attends must have a ticket to get in. Only 6,000 will be given out. Students and school employees will get the tickets first. Any leftover tickets will be offerred to the public for free on May 10th.