News Column

Harrah's celebrates summer, improvements with free concert

June 16, 2014

By Mary Perez, The Sun Herald

June 16--BILOXI -- Darius Rucker and thousands of his fans will celebrate the first day of summer Saturday by opening the Great Lawn at Harrah's Gulf Coast with music and fireworks.

In less than six months, the skeleton of the unfinished casino on the beach was demolished, the concrete walk along the water completed and the Great Lawn planted.

"I never thought I'd have so much fun watching the grass grow," said Kennedy Smith, vice president of marketing for the casino. With renovations completed throughout the resort and this new attraction, the former Grand Biloxi Casino has a new name and a new look.

Areas of the Great Lawn where grass didn't come in

as thick as they like will be sodded this week. The stage will be on the west end of the site and the concession areas on the north to maximize the space.

"We're expecting upwards of 20,000 people for our event," he said.

People will be admitted free and there are no tickets for the concert.

Smith said that while the long-range forecast is for great summer weather, "This is a rain or shine show."

Harrah's is working with local officials for a safe event. Security officers will direct people to several parking areas close to the casino.

"We own a lot of the surrounding property to the east, north and west of us," Smith said.

Gates open at 5 p.m., giving people time to get burgers, corn dogs, snow balls, beer and other festival food and beverages before the concerts start. Fireworks will follow Rucker's performance.

The former lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, Rucker went on to become a solo country artist and he recently received his third Grammy award for his hit "Wagon Wheel."

Last year, he was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, a childhood dream.

The concert shows the progress made at the casino in just six months. Renovations were made to the hotel rooms, casino and buffet and new restaurants opened.

Smith said regulars are pleased and new customers are coming in to sample Steak 'n Shake, which is open 24 hours, Magnolia House fine dining restaurant and Mix and Mingle, an indoor and outdoor bar and lounge area near the pool that provides entertainment on weekends.

The biggest change was south of U.S. 90, where Smith said the eyesore is gone, "and we're delivering on that promise of having that space."

Harrah's is exploring options for the open area beyond concerts to bring a greater scope of activities and tourists to East Biloxi. Smith said they will have other types of events and with the number of parking spaces and hotel rooms available on Casino Row and new attractions opening at Point Cadet, "This is an opportunity to utilize this space to boost visitation."


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Source: Sun Herald (Biloxi, MS)

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