Snowbirds Find Warm Welcome
- story by Lisa Monti
On an unseasonably warm January afternoon, a gaggle of large Canada geese waddled around the open grounds at Hollywood Casino, just off the main entrance road leading to the resort.
It’s impossible to know if the geese were locals or if they were part of the seasonal north-to-south migration. They did serve as a reminder that snowbird season is here, that time when rental homes, RV parks and campgrounds fill with travelers from the North and Midwest who head South to escape the misery of freezing weather in the dead of their winter.
At the casino’s The Bridges golf course, not far from the field of geese, the staff was gearing up to host a wave of guests who return every year to South Mississippi’s warm and welcoming communities.
Beach to Bayou
They soon will be joining local golfers on the award-winning course designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer.
“We still have locals who play but this time of year is our busy season when we get the bulk of our play,” he said. Upwards of 30 percent of the annual rounds are played during snowbird season. “Maybe a little bit more,” he said.
Many of the snowbirds faithfully make the annual trek because they know they can count on the weather and other coastal amenities like fresh seafood. Golfing is a huge draw for them and the Bridges is a favorite for many. “We’ve got them coming from Chicago, St. Louis, some from Canada, and all around the Midwest,” he said.
Not surprisingly, our warm climate is a big attraction for the visitors from up north. “They’re just escaping the cold. We average about 59 or 60 degrees this time of year. It’s a good change for them,” he said.
And it’s not unusual for campers to start arriving in December and stay for up to three months. “We have a good bit of people staying over a month,” she said.
The park earns high marks from those who visit and the feedback is positive. Considering its many amenities and beachfront location, snowbirds return year after year.
Water is also among the selling points for the Bridges. Baumgartner said his pitch to potential players are “scenic views of the Bay, no homes on the course and target-oriented golf.” Even with recent heavy rain and freezing temperatures here, he said, “The course is in great shape right now.”