Biloxi’s annual fireworks show has gained a reputation over the years as being one of the biggest in the Southeast, organizers say, but one thing people may not know is that the annual production is also a musical affair.
Admirers of fireworks displays and patriotic music can get both on Friday night, beginning at 9 p.m., when the city’s annual fireworks display is set to begin off a barge near Deer Island. Best viewing is from the Biloxi Lighthouse eastward to the Biloxi Bay Bridge, and best listening is on Bob 105.9.
“It’s a real high-tech operation,” chuckles Bob 105.9 program director Wayne Watkins, a longtime radio personality known to New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast radio audiences as “Weerd Wayne.” “David Spear, who runs J&M Displays, the company that does the fireworks show, listens to the radio and as we count it down right at 9 o’clock, he pushes the button to start the show.”
This year’s display is scheduled to be 22 minutes long, and organizer Rusty David of the Boom-Boom Committee, which raises private and public money to stage the show, says it’s the largest you’ll find between Port Arthur, Texas and Jacksonville, Fla.
And the music will be “everything from straight-ahead patriotic music, and including Neil Diamond, John Mellencamp, and orchestral patriotic music,” said Watkins, who has been in radio for 39 years (nearly 20 years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast). “I worked with the fireworks company going back to the ’70s, when we did shows at Pontchartrain Beach, and, in fact, I went to Brother Martin (a New Orleans high school) with David Spear.”
In all seriousness, Watkins said, the commercial-free show is not just a matter of playing music. “There is a choreographic aspect to the music,” he said. “When we get to the up-tempo climatic tunes near the end of the show, it’s spectacular.”
A few things to remember: If you’re planning to attend the firework show, park in parking bays only. Do not park in the center median of U.S. 90. Where light-colored clothing. Be careful crossing U.S. 90. Drive defensively. On the drive home, traffic will be heavy and slow moving; be patient.