Point Cadet pavilion to host first event Friday

There’s still some landscaping and a few odds and ends to be taken care of, but all indications are that the waterfront park at Point Cadet is going be a popular place for special events.

The open-air pavilion at the site at the easternmost tip of the Biloxi peninsula hosts its first event this Friday when the Gulf Coast Symphony Orchestra holds its white linen affair, with the popular ’80s group The Molly Ringwalds entertaining.  The outdoor event, which runs from 7 to 10 p.m., had been previously scheduled for Beauvoir.

“We’re really excited about being the first event to use this facility,” said Symphony President Whitney Sumrall. “We’re looking forward to a successful event, and we’ve really been selling a lot more tickets.”

More than 200 tickets – at $30 each – have already been sold, and organizers expect sales to increase as word spreads about the venue.

The symphony fundraiser is actually a sneak peek at the pavilion and waterfront park. The facility won’t actually be open regularly to the public until May, when landscaping and a cover for the playground equipment has been installed.

Biloxi Parks and Recreation Director Sherry Bell, whose department also oversees bookings at the Town Green and Biloxi Civic and Visitors centers, said interest has been high for the facility.

“We haven’t even opened up the reservation book yet, and we already have events booked for the next several weeks,” Bell said. “The fact is, people see the venue when they’re coming across the Biloxi Bay Bridge from Ocean Springs. They see the pavilion. They see the waterfront promenade, the decorative lighting and the green space. Quite frankly, it sells itself. It’s about location and the array of amenities that we offer.”

The new pavilion is about 140 feet by 70 feet, or about 9,833 square feet, slightly smaller than the 10,000-square-foot former Coast Guard seaplane hangar that had been at the site. There’s a perception that the new pavilion is smaller than the pre-Katrina hangar, but that’s because the hangar was taller and was flanked by storage areas and restrooms, which bumped square footage up to 16,000 square feet. Under the new plan, restrooms and storage areas are in nearby buildings.

The entire 5.5-acre site — encompassing the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum and waterfront park — is being paid for with federal funds.

“This is a great investment for the City of Biloxi,” said Dale Partners Architect Leigh Jaunsen, who also designed the city’s Visitors and Civic Centers and is now working on the proposed downtown baseball stadium, MGM Park at Beau Rivage. “This new facility returns this space to public use.”

The city had been looking to coordinate the opening with the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum in a couple of months, but people are just too anxious to wait, Bell said.

The pavilion will rent for $400, or $1,000 for festivals.

Said Bell: “We already have about eight events booked, including a crawfish boil, two family reunions, and the Krewe of Neptune’s Spring party. We’re excited about this new venue, which is a great complement to what we already have with the Biloxi Visitors Center, the Biloxi Civic Center and all of our other city properties.”
See dozens of photos of the waterfront site, from the 1940s until yesterday
See a flyer for the Friday night event
Read about the Molly Ringwalds
Rental information on city facilities

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