By: Nancy Marchbanks
There is never a shortage of material or a lack of interesting subject matter to write about in the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Day after day, week after week, and month after month, there is always something happening here to capture the public’s attention. Go To Places Monthly chose a wide array of Cover subjects in 2010 to celebrate everything from Sports, Seasonal Events, and the Gaming Industry to Local Celebrities, New Beginnings, and Pastry Chefs!  A special thanks to our Production Manager, Jonah Blum, who never fails to design a beautiful cover to illustrate each and every issue.
Atlas Fights, MMA Fight Company was introduced through GTP in January of last year. Since then, it is well on it’s way to being very well known and a very well established business in the Southern region. President, Glenn Mattina Jr. surrounded himself with the best fighters and the best team in order to put Atlas Fights on the map. Mattina is a savvy business man, with family roots in promotion and entertainment. He was poised and ready to be a serious contender in this market. Having already been a huge fan of the sport, he understood what was necessary to bring in the crowds. “It’s in my blood. MMA Cage Fighting exploded onto the scene in 2009, and this is a great time to be involved with the sport. My company has raised the bar, and  I am very proud of that,” Mattina said.
February is Mardi Gras season and we thought how could we best celebrate this wonderful time of year? Nothing says purple, gold and green better than Paul’s Pastry Shop in Picayune. Paul’s came to be in 1972, and today, they offer 40 different varieties of delectable King Cakes. They were the first bakery to ever put fruit and cream cheese inside one…others try to imitate these scrumptious sweets, but they are never quite the same. Baking begins at a fevered pitch on January 2 for Mardi Gras season and by the time the last parade rolls, Paul’s will make over 52,000 King Cakes, and they will be shipped all over the country. Owners, Sherri and Robert Thigpen run a very tight ship that is filled with happy, dedicated employees. Paul’s Pastry Shop is a precious jewel in the South Mississippi crown. If you insist on the very best in pastries, cakes, cookies and specialty items you must visit Paul’s in Picayune.
Mayfest is a unique and wonderful music festival in the city of Ocean Springs, It is the brain child of local restaurant owner, Arturo Barajas. It began several years ago, with the hope of bringing more tourists to the area. Although it was a slow start involving much debt, Barajas never gave up on his vision. Mayor Connie Moran supported the festival wholeheartedly, and with every passing year, Mayfest has grown and has a huge economic impact on Ocean Springs. This is a family friendly event, filled with live music from all parts of the world.
After six years of planning and construction, the new Coast Coliseum and Convention Center proudly opened it’s doors. It exceeded all expectations upon completion. The beautiful Coastal design of the building mimics the flow of the Gulf through wavy shapes and curves. The color scheme brings to mind our beaches, with floors that also flow into multiple natural shades. The hues seem to melt into one another as you journey through the building, reminiscent of the sand at various depths. The walls are painted to invoke the image of sunsets and the sky. And the ceilings add the perfect finishing touch, with the look of a weathered boardwalk. 150,000 feet of exhibition hall with movable walls can divide the space in numerous configurations. It can accommodate airplanes, boats and any other super sized exhibits.
In June, GTP put the city of D’Iberville front and center. A hot bed of new developments and known for being the fastest growing city on the Coast, D’Iberville has seen tremendous change. City Manager, Michael Janus gave us the inside scoop on what was on the drawing board for this 22 year old city. Great excitement was in the air, with the opening of the Promenade. Sangani Boulevard was continuing to add more restaurants and new businesses to the very established location, and the new $75 million, 100,000 square foot Ocean Expo Aquarium would be making it’s home in D’Iberville in the future. An ambitious project to upgrade the roads was implemented in order to accommodate the influx of new traffic. Gaming is also on the horizon, with property earmarked for two brand new casinos.
In July, our Cover story was on the First Annual Power Shack Classic, which was held at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum. It was bigger than life, and super exciting. There has never been anything like it on the Coast before, and we were thrilled to tell the public about it. Bodybuilding requires extreme dedication and discipline that very few can hold up to. The POWER SHACK has been in business for over 21 years, with the emphasis on bodybuilding, fitness, and cross trainers. The POWER SHACK offered amateur bodybuilding athletes the opportunity to strut their stuff, while competing for coveted trophies. It was a first rate event and great fun for all.
The WLOX Weather Team was the focus of our August issue. Maintaining a top five Nielsen rating for decades is achieved through excellence in broadcasting. Chief Meteorologist, Mike Reader is joined by Tommy Richards, Carrie Duncan, and Rob Knight – an unbeatable squad of radar gazers. “Our biggest job is to help people get ready for what’s to come,” Reader said. Tommy Richards delivers the weather reports every morning and on the midday news. Carrie Duncan is the bright and happy face we see for all weather reports every night, Tuesday through Saturday. Rob Knight takes over on the weekends. South Mississippians know they can always count on being well informed and up to date on all weather conditions in the area, thanks to the knowledge and professionalism of these fine people.
GTP featured special “Casino Action” newspapers during last year, that gave the local gaming industry an opportunity to take part in particular issues devoted exclusively to our Coast casinos. The IP was extremely supportive in our efforts to put the spotlight on South Mississippi’s most popular tourist attraction. Special recognition was given to top employees at the IP. We also took you on property and behind the scenes to get a taste of all the wonderful amenities available.
The Isle Casino Hotel Biloxi also sponsored a Casino Action issue. Having recently celebrated their 18th Anniversary, Senior Director of Corporate Communications, Jill Haynes, took us back to the advent of Coast Riverboat Gaming. It all began with the arrival of the very first riverboats to the Coast; the Diamond Lady and the Emerald Lady. It was a fascinating account of the development of the Isle over the years.
In October, we were in automobile heaven. The 14th Annual Cruisin’ The Coast kicked off the Fall season  with the biggest crowds for the biggest roster of cars to date. Once again Woody Bailey, Executive Director and Vice Chairman of Cruisin, pulled out all the stops and put together a spectacular week of entertainment and fun for all. The weather was perfect and the streets were packed with spectators and participants from morning to night, up and down the Coastline each day. Cruisin is now known as one of the best car show events in the entire country.
In honor of Veteran’s Day, we were delighted to dedicate our November Cover to the men and women in uniform. Retired NASA Astronaut and Biloxi native, Fred Haise, served as the Grand Marshall for the Gulf Coast Veteran’s Day parade. He very graciously spent hours talking to GTP about his journey into the Space Program, as well as his love of airplanes and flight. Haise has lived a remarkable life. He is currently on the Board of the Infinity Science Center.
In the coming year, you can be assured of more great stories on the pages of Go To Places Monthly. If you have any ideas or contributions for our Think Tank, we welcome your input. Thank you

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