Meridian prepares for State Games
CHECKING IN Jill Wilder, front desk clerk at the Howard Johnson's in Meridian, will welcome hotel guests for the 2002 State Games of Mississippi. Local hotels are booked with thousands of amateur athletes who are scheduled to compete in this year's event. Photo illustration by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
June 14, 2002
Debbie Joiner sat quietly behind her desk Thursday, thumbing through pages of a blue notebook that lists reservations for this weekend at her hotel.
Joiner said work will become more hectic beginning today the first weekend of the 2002 State Games of Mississippi, the biggest annual event in Meridian. The State Games continue June 21-23.
This marks the 11th year of the State Games. Amateur athletes of all ages from across the state will compete in the Olympic-style event.
Opening ceremonies are set for 7:30 p.m. today at Meridian High School's Ray Stadium. Gates will open at 6.
Meridian-area hotels have been booked for weeks. And restaurants and other businesses say they are as prepared as they can be for an expected onslaught of out-of-town visitors.
Eric Hooper, who has been a manager at Applebee's Neighborhood Grill &Bar for four months, said other workers have been trying to prepare him for this weekend.
Some see the surge of visitors as a great way to showcase their hometown. Sandy Bynum, director of the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau, said the amateur sporting event is great for the city.
While local businesses welcome the extra work, they say it makes their jobs a lot harder.