Mississippi RV Parks are about to fill to capacity as RV snowbirds from across the country and Canada head south for a winter away from snow and ice.
Many of them bring their RVs and spend almost half the year on the coast, bringing business to the local RV parks, restaurants, casinos and RV suppliers. The total RV industry impact is $269 million in Mississippi.
“About the first of October the snowbirds start coming through,” said James Lee, whose family owns and operates Indian Point Campground in Gautier. The first time they stay two or three days. The next year they stay a month or two. “By the third of fourth year they’re here the whole winter,” he said. Usually, they go home in April.
Sue and Dan Perkins operate Gulf Haven Campground with its 77 sites directly north of the breach and for the seniors who fill the campground in the winter, they have a steady variety of activities.
“Every Saturday night is movie night,” she said. Her husband is the dealer for Texas Hold-Em and the caller for bingo on Monday Game Night. The seniors play canasta on Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday is potluck dinner. Since they travel in the RVS from the Northeast and all over the country, the campers make food and share recipes from the region where they live. The campground offers exercise programs and craft projects and space for a jigsaw puzzle that is always in progress, and the Gulfport senior center and community center are right behind the RV park.
Snowbirds like to take the advantage of the program where the sixth month is free, Perkins said, and the five months are discounted. That means the snowbirds celebrate the holidays with their RV family. “Thanksgiving we fry turkeys and they bring the fixings,” Perkins said. They also celebrate Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day with parties.
Mississippi RV Parks snowbirds are almost 100 percent seniors, and they are drawn to South Mississippi by low prices, less traffic than in Florida, the casinos, wildlife, and fishing.