Thousands of tourists and locals have photographs of themselves in the mouth of a menacing, 30-foot shark. The shocking pink building behind it dispels the scariness of such a scene, but, oh, those pointy teeth. |
Sharkheads, a Biloxi souvenir and gift shop on the east end of the Biloxi Strip, is owned by the Pierotich family, which opened the Biloxi Beach shop in 1973. In addition to Sharkheads, they also operate Souvenir City, which has a big alligator as its mascot.
Both sea creatures were the creation of Barry Kern, a New Orleans Mardi Gras float designer. And both the alligator and the shark are victims of Hurricane Katrina.
"The shark head was made out of fiberglass and a foam-type material," said Jennifer Pierotich Drawdy. "I suspect it went into a bunch of pieces. I've heard that they found two pieces on Ship Island but we don't know that for sure."
The souvenir shop had two entrances, one underneath the gaping shark jaws built in 1999 and another by a giant shell. Within days after the storm there were rumors the shell was near U.S. 90 and one of the Saints streets, but Drawdy said the family never heard that.
Sharkheads is known for an eclectic stock of beach ware, souvenirs, air-brush products and homemade fudge. In sifting through the rubble of the large shop, Drawdy's daughter Devin found a personalized license plate with her name.
"It'll be tough, but the spirit of Biloxi is unbelievable," Drawdy said. "We will build back and we will put back a shark head. We were Biloxi's newest landmark."
- KAT BERGERON