The man behind one of the region’s best loved seasonal extravaganza’s, Christmas City, is Ron Meyers. He has a long list of very successful events and shows to his credit, over one hundred and counting! However, he is most recognized for developing Christmas City which takes place like clockwork every Nov. at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center in Biloxi. He is a leader in the field of entertainment promotions with over thirty years of experience. Ron Meyers is a man of faith, who radiates good will and a positive vibe. Born and raised in Iowa, he is one of seven children. He learned very early on the value of a dollar and the importance of hard work. He and his wife Karen have recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary. They have four children and two grandchildren.
“I always believed that if you worked hard and put your mind to it, you would be successful in everything you do,” Meyers said. He was born an old soul with big ideas and big dreams which made it very hard to fit into the mold that his family held fast to. At the age of only fifteen, he knew that it would be best if he left home. His siblings and parents did not understand him and they felt it was a waste of time to think about the lofty ideas Ron was always focused on. Everyone worked in factories or on farms and they expected Ron to do the same, but he longed for excitement and refused to settle for that lifestyle…he wanted more. “I never wanted to be like everybody else, I knew I was different and I liked it that way. God had a plan for me and a purpose, the black sheep was not going to conform, I had to follow my dreams,” he said.
Ron’s grandmother welcomed him to come live with her in order to finish school and explore his options. They were very much in tune to one another and shared the same free spirited personalities. He seldom saw his parents or siblings once he moved out of the family home. Ron Meyers was too busy working, going to school, and making big plans for his future. When he became a senior in high school, he decided to strike out on his own. His relationship with his family improved but he continued to blaze his own very ambitious path. Ron never doubted the fact that his future would be very bright and he would one day experience great success in his adult life. He learned very quickly how great it was to make money. He had to depend on himself, there was no great wealth in the family to fall back on, and no mentors to follow, he was on his own.
Life took an unexpected turn, and at the age of eighteen, Ron enlisted in the United State Air Force. He was going to be a father and his girlfriend was just sixteen years old. The Air Force offered stability and security, the two were married right away. Basic training took place at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas. After Tech school, Ron received orders to go to Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. “I had no idea where that was and I had never heard of the place! I arrived and took the bus ride from the airport to Keesler along Hwy 90. I will never forget that moment when I saw the beach and the beautiful Gulf. I knew this would always be my home and I would never live anywhere else, he said.
Soon Ron Meyers was the father of two but the marriage fell apart. His wife abandoned he and their children and never looked back. Ron was well prepared to assume the role of both mother and father to his little family. He raised them on his own for nine years, until he remarried. When the obligation to the Air Force came to an end, the 22 year old entrepreneur knew exactly what he wanted to do. He never went to college and didn’t have a business plan but he did have an intense drive and determination. With no experience and nothing to build upon, Ron Meyers developed his own production company.
Ron began managing Universal Health Spa, one of the first fitness clubs in Biloxi, when he got out of the Service. The clientele were all very influential people, the movers and shakers of the Coast at the time. In 1981, Ron was encouraged to bring bodybuilding to the area. It was becoming extremely popular throughout the country but had never been seen in South Mississippi. When he asked the owner of Universal to put on the show, he was turned down. Undaunted, Ron offered to work on the project himself, as well as cover the cost while giving the publicity to Universal. He got the approval to proceed.
The event was held at the Saenger theater in Biloxi and ticket sales were brisk. Ron was the Master of Ceremonies for the event. Before the curtain went up, Ron was overwhelmed with the fine turn out. “It was so exciting and I was thrilled. I knew at that moment I had found my calling, this was what I was meant to do. I would create entertainment and promote extraordinary shows for everyone to enjoy,” he said. The event was a huge success and Ron Meyers Productions was off and running.
As Ron Meyers built his company, he ruffled a few feathers during his rise to fame. He didn’t realize there was a chain of command on the Coast and rules that he must abide by. “Sure I made mistakes! I thought I knew everything and could do whatever I wanted. I was young and sometimes foolish. When I have made mistakes, I never dwell on it, I learn from it,” he said. Many years ago, Ron decided to host his own Crawfish Festival just one week before the Biloxi Elks would have their yearly event. The mayor at the time became furious and threatened him with an arrest if he continued with his plans. Initially, Ron Meyers refused citing free enterprise and the fact that he had a contract. Soon, more pressure came from other sources to force Ron to abandon the event so he moved it to Gulfport. “There is no doubt about it, I was wrong at the time and looking back, I wish I had done things differently,” he said. Luckily both festivals proved to be successful with great attendance even though they were always scheduled very close together.
1983 was a time of unrest and great negativity throughout America, things were changing and not in a good way. Ron decided to add a special feature to his Crawfish Festival in the hopes of raising morale. He threw an “I Love America Pep Rally” and invited local leaders and politicians to come and speak to the crowd about the great opportunities we have in this country. The Air Force Drum and Bugle was in attendance, and everyone was presented with a small American flag to wave. It was another huge success. The following month, Ron Meyers received a special delivery letter by way of Congressman Trent Lott’s office from President Ronald Reagan! He was quite impressed with the I Love America Pep Rally. The letter is one of Ron’s most treasured possessions. “The most powerful leader in the world recognized an event that I thought of! That is a prime example of what one idea can do,” he said.
Once a month, Ron did flea markets, in addition to the seasonal Annual Crawfish Festival, Shrimp Festival and outdoor concerts. All events were held at the old Rice Pavilion in Jones Park. He only charged exhibitors $12.00 to set up a flea market booth so the pavilion was always packed. People loved to drop by and sort through the array of products and treasures that were on display for sale. In Dec. , 1983, a special Christmas flea market was added at the Jones Park location. It had just over 35 booths and very quickly outgrew it’s space. A friend recommended that it be moved to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum so it could continue to grow. Ron Meyers took his advice and Christmas City was born. He also produced Christmas City in the New Orleans Superdome, Hattiesburg, MS, Mobile, Alabama, and Pensacola, Florida. It is one of the best loved, most enjoyed events on the Coast, year after year. It is always so festive and fun, a true Christmas experience! The BIloxi location proved to draw the largest crowds, so since 1997, Ron Meyers has dedicated every ounce of energy to this once a year, spectacular event. In 2010 and this year as well, Christmas City was named a Top Twenty Tourist Event in the Southeast. This show has an expected economic impact of half a million dollars on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
For nine years, Ron Meyers managed a Christian radio station. It was by far his favorite business venture and when it came to an end, he was truly lost and devastated. From 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm each day, he hosted the radio program which included his choice of inspirational music as well as chatting with his audience about faith and God’s word. “I loved it! Absolutely loved it and we were like family. It meant everything to me,” he said. Two years ago he was notified that the station was going to close and the format was changing to a national broadcast, he would no longer be needed. The worst part was, he was not permitted to announce his departure. The station would just disappear on the designated day and he could not let on that the show was ending. Although he did what was requested of him, it left him in complete despair.
In the interim, Ron’s father suffered a serious fall that resulted in permanent brain injury. He requires round the clock care and was placed in a local nursing home. With the radio show no longer a factor, Ron was free to help take care of his dad and spend quality time with him each day. The production business has slowed down considerably and he has no interest in continuing with it full time. Christmas City, however, will go on every year as it always has. Now Ron looks forward to speaking engagements and lecture tours so that he can share his knowledge and faith with people, encourage their dreams and help open doors of opportunity. In closing Ron Meyers said, “I don’t think you should wait for the right time to do what you want to do. The right time may never come so if you believe in something…don’t wait…do it! You don’t want to retire of the island of regrets: would have, should have, could have. I am a risk taker and I do live on the edge of life, but I am also a very happy guy! Adversity often births opportunity and with passion, drive and faith, there is always gold at the end of the rainbow. Keep a positive attitude and have Teflon shoulders…let the troubles of life just slide off your back and you can’t go wrong.”
Go To Places is proud to honor Ron Meyers as our Nov. Mover and Shaker for 2012.