People Flock To South Mississippi For July 4th Festivities

Brett Rials took a chance. His family drove from Meridian to Gulfport without Fourth of July hotel reservations. Luckily, he found a very cool place to stay.

"Absolutely," Rials said, moments after stepping out of a swimming pool.

"I mean this is great for the kids. And everything we've seen down here, from food all the way through has been wonderful."

The swimming complex at Grand Casino Gulfport was one of the South Mississippi attractions where guests found a sometimes lazy, always refreshing way to celebrate America's freedom. Austin Miller is a Grand Casino marketing director.

"It's a busy weekend," Miller said. "It ranks right up there with New Year's Eve. We're sold out tonight all the way through Sunday."

Kristi Lambert and her kids arrived in Gulfport on Wednesday.

"It's a very nice, kid atmosphere over here," Lambert said, as she waited in line to enter the pool area.

"The kids like to swim and go on the river. And it's just very relaxing."

For volunteers at the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center volunteers, the fourth was relaxing and wet at the same time. This was the first Fourth of July the children's museum opened its doors. So it set up a dunking booth, and other patriotic games for kids to enjoy.

Betsy Grant is the museum's director. She said Lynn Meadows opened on the fourth because "it's all about families, right? And hot dogs and hamburgers and fun."

The museum expected about 600 people at its party. Vince DeGeare and his family drove over from Ocean Springs.

"We wanted the guys to come out and have a lot of fun," the Keesler airman said. "Play with other children. Dunk some kids."

Before the dunking booth opened, the city of Gulfport hosted a Fourth of July parade. Floats rolled right past the Thompsons. They came here from Houston, Texas specifically to spend the fourth in South Mississippi.

"We tell everyone in Houston to come down here," Roy Thompson said. "It's the best place to go."