Hidden messages tell story of Hard Rock’s resilience 15 years after opening

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Thursday’s date, July 7th, is circled on the calendar at the Hard Rock in Biloxi.

It was on this day 15 years ago the casino celebrated its opening following a long road to recovery after Hurricane Katrina.

Today on the casino floor, you see the sparkling lights and the ring of slot machines, but up stairs and away from the action, few know about the attic. Behind the door of what’s called a secret room brings back a flood of memories for General Manager Todd Raziano.

A wall in the attic is filled with the names of the many employees who helped launch the Hard Rock on July 7, 2007.

“It was just a lot of excitement, a lot of happiness and pride among the team that we were finally open,” said Raziano. “They like to express a lot of passion and that’s what this wall is, all the team members that were here doing training and getting ready, finally they were able to express themselves.”

Also on the wall, the signature of Kid Rock, who’s concert was part of the grand opening.

“We brought him up here from Hard Rock Live, he was kind enough to sign the wall, so Kid Rock, Hard Rock, it makes sense,” said Raziano.

The Hard Rock was originally scheduled to open in 2005, but Hurricane Katrina washed away those plans. Two years later, Tammy Pruitt was on staff when the doors opened. She’s still coming back 15 years later.

“You meet a lot of people who can give you a lot of insight to the world, veterans, people from all over the country and world, which is part of what Hard Rock is, it’s all over the world,” said Pruitt.

Back in the attic, messages from all over the world are written on Hard Rock t-shirts along with works of art out of sight for many years.

“It serves as a place where we have some memorabilia pieces, some things from that initial opening that were recovered from the storm water, old memorabilia that couldn’t be retrieved and pictures from those early days,” Raziano said.

The message Raziano wrote on the wall in the attic 15 years ago: “No one could stop us”, still serves as a testament of resilience both then and now.

“It’s been a lot of obstacles along the way and the fact that we’ve overcome those not just the Hard Rock, but as a community speaks volumes about the resolve of the people here on the Gulf Coast,” Raziano said.

To celebrate the anniversary the Hard Rock provided meals for all the employees who have been with the resort for the last 15 years. The casino also held prize drawings.

Want more WLOX news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

Copyright 2022 WLOX. All rights reserved.

Hugh Keeton

Hugh Keeton

Hugh Keeton is an anchor and reporter for WLOX News who grew up in the small North Mississippi town of Iuka, and later attended Ole Miss.