Biloxi cemetery tour features city’s colorful past

Biloxi cemetery tour features city’s colorful past

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Sometimes, a history lesson can take you by surprise - as it did for Glenda O’Neal, who portrayed Dorothy Dorsett Brown, the owner of the old Broadwater Beach Resort.

“I remember her from years past,” she said. “But I had no idea that they were the first ones to introduce illicit gambling here and illegal liquor.”

To the point of this year’s cemetery tour theme, sometimes you need a little bad to make some good.

“They wanted to leave monies to mean something for the people who are less fortunate,” O’Neal said. “So, they had the motto to alleviate human suffering.”

The theme for the 13th annual Historic Old Biloxi Cemetery Tour is “Biloxi’s Colorful Past.”

Actors and storytellers portrayed characters that highlighted Biloxi’s history of gambling, prohibition push back and other questionable behaviors.

“Oh, yeah, like the lady of the street on the far end you know,” Larry Strohn said with a laugh.

This is his fourth time to experience the tour.

“It’s just amazing what all went on over here, you know, so many things going on,” he said. “You had the strip clubs here; you had Jane Mansfield come in here.”

Claude Sicuro and Jerry Misko portrayed their fathers and revisited the time of the infamous 406 Club.

“It was interesting,” Sicuro said. “They liked to gamble, they had card games, they had bookmaking. You know, they had a bar. They liked it. It was just a gathering spot.”

Misko said his father ran the poker games for more than 40 years.

“It was a great place for camaraderie for men to get together to have a great time together,” he said. “And that was the key element of it.”

Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich portrayed himself and talked about Biloxi around the turn of the century.

“When Nikola Skrmetta wound up here and he got into the seafood business and brought his brothers and sisters, and they brought brothers and sisters, and here we are today," he said.

Gilich admitted with a smile that Biloxi has had an interesting past.

“I think so, when you look at things like gambling, right? Drinking, music, prostitution. What else is there?" he said.

The tour, a production by Preserve Biloxi, continues from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday. Admission is free.

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