Thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses on the Coast

Thousands of Jehovah's witnesses of all ages are here on the coast for a district convention. The 2002 "Zealous Kingdom Proclaimers" Convention started yesterday at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum. More than 6,000 Jehovah's witnesses traveled from throughout the state of Mississippi and Louisiana to attend.

"It's eight of us. We got in Thursday around four o'clock. We'll be leaving Sunday right after the convention is over with,"  said Danielle Scott, Jehovah's Witness.

"I brought my wife and kids with me. We're all the way from Covington. It's not very far, so it's pretty convenient," said Bret Norman, Jehovah's Witness.

A large crowd like this one has a huge economic impact on the area. Convention leaders say the event lasts about three days. They say over that period of time about $6 million in revenue is generated.

"When you consider each family, group staying in the hotels. We have to eat. Many of us save money to go shopping while we're here," said Leonard Smith, Convention Leader.

"Checking out the scenery, swimming, checking out some of the restaurants, walking through the mall, " says Scott.

"We're of course, hitting all the local establishments and things like that. And we haven't been to the mall yet, but I'm sure we'll have to go, " says Norman.

About 190 Jehovah's witness conventions like this one are being held throughout the country. This is the third consecutive year, the group has decided to come to the coast. Convention leaders say the coast is a nice fit for the event.

"It's a resort area for one thing and many families plan their vacations around our conventions, so many families stay the whole week. We just enjoy the atmosphere along the coast line, " says Smith.

By Myya Durden-Robinson