Biloxi prepares for 300th birthday

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BILOXI, Miss. -- This city is going all out for its 300th birthday. Throughout the year, Biloxi and its Gulf Coast neighbors will host events and traditional festivals, including the commemoration of the 1699 landing of French explorer Pierre Lemoyne Sieur d'Iberville.

The first of the specials planned for the occasion is the Biloxi Tricentennial Commission Birthday Celebration on Feb. 13, a full-day event to be held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum.

There will be lots of food, entertainment, regional arts and crafts, commemorative ceremonies and reenactments of historical events. Phone: (800) BILOXI-3 or (228) 435-1699.

Another major event is set for spring -- the Biloxi Tricentennial Army-Navy-Air Force Tri-Service Track Meet to be held from April 2 to April 5 at Yankee Stadium here.

Here is a rundown of tentative dates for traditional events that will occur during the first half of the year:

  • The 10th annual Mississippi Gulf Coast History Week, Feb. 7 through 12, at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum, Biloxi. Phone: (228) 435-6320.
  • The Gulf Coast Carnival Association Coronation Ball is slatedfor Feb. 15 from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center. See King d'Iberville and Queen Ixolib crowned to reign over Mardi Gras 1999. Phone: (228) 432-8806.
  • The 52nd annual Gulf Coast Spring Pilgrimage, March 18 through 27. Tours of historical homes and gardens, churches, museums and historical sites are offered in Waveland, Bay St. Louis, Diamondhead, Pass Christian, Long Beach, Gulfport, Biloxi, Ocean Springs, Gautier, Moss Point and Pascagoula. All pilgrimage activities are free. Phone: (228) 467-4979.
  • The 1699 Celebration, April 2 through 4, in Ocean Springs. A family picnic with food, entertainment and arts and crafts, plus a celebration of the establishment of Fort Maurepas, Vieux Biloxey, the first settlement of the Louisiana Territory. Phone: (228) 875-0892.
  • The Country Cajun Crawfish Festival, April 16 through 18, under the oaks of the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. Phone: (228) 388-8010.
  • The 300th Celebration of the Landing of D'Iberville, April 23 through 25, in downtown Ocean Springs. The public is invited to a covered-dish supper on the 23rd; to a street fair, pet parade, arts and crafts exhibit, food and entertainment on the 24th, with a ball that night, and a landing reenactment followed by a Mardi Gras-style parade on the 25th. Phone: (228) 875-0892.
  • Confederate Memorial Day, April 24, at the Jefferson Davis Home & Presidential Library in Beauvoir, with period music and readings. Potluck supper at 1 p.m. and a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at 3 p.m. Phone: (228) 388-9074.
  • The Biloxi Shrimp Festival, May 1, 4 p.m. to midnight, with food, festivities, Mass, crowning of a king and the selection of a queen. Phone: (228) 435-5578.
  • The Blessing of the Fleet, May 2. A wreath will be dropped into the Gulf, in honor of deceased fishermen, at 1 p.m. A parade of boats will be blessed at 2 p.m. Phone: (228) 435-5578.
  • The Great Biloxi Schooner Races, May 1. Held in conjunction with the Shrimp Festival and Blessing of the Fleet, this race is between two schooners. Phone: (228) 435-6320.
  • The Gulf Coast Wooden Boat Rendezvous, May 22 and 23, at water's edge between the Isle of Capri Casino Crowne Plaza Resort and Casino Magic. Phone: (228) 435-6320.
  • The eighth annual Race of the White Wings on May 22. A regatta weekend featuring races by wooden vessels begins at 3 p.m. and finishes in front of the Biloxi Lighthouse. Phone: (228) 435-6320.
  • Summer Music Festival, from May to October. A summer-long schedule of concerts featuring a variety of musical genres, including jazz, rock, blues, country and gospel.
  • Biloxi Tricentennial, Phone: (228) 435-1699

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