Gulfport Celebrates Founding with Art, History and a Party

The Gulfport Casino is just one part of Gulfport’s rich history, which will be celebrated at the October 13 Founders Day event hosted by the Gulfport Historical Society. Photo courtesy of The Gulfport Historical Society.

One hundred and eight years ago Gulfport was incorporated, and its residents haven’t forgotten. 

Gulfport locals are preparing to celebrate the town’s fourth Founder’s Day on Saturday, October 13, and will complete the day with a late-night tradition, Gulfport Under the Stars. 

“We’ll sort of dance through the evening,” said Karean Dorn, events coordinator for the Gulfport Historical Society, which is sponsoring the event along with the city of Gulfport. 

Founder’s Day at the Gulfport Historical Society will be hosted from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will consist of a history-packed trolley tour, a photo pictorial in Scout Hall and art work from Funky as a Monkey Art Studio. 

According to Dorn, the artwork will consist of various pottery pieces, jewelry and paintings, all up for sale and created by local artists. Cake and non-alcoholic punch will be the free and available to event goers as they browse the art. 

This is the first year that tours will be given via trolley ride rather than a walking demonstration. 

“Escaped blockade runners from Key West settled this town,” said Gulfport Historical Society President Cathy Salustri. “We fished and we hunted till we almost got the railroad, but we didn’t.”

Salustri will be sharing her knowledge of Gulfport on the tours. 

“This time it’ll be on a trolley, like a walk on wheels,” said Dorn. “And the trolley is handicap accessible.”

According to Dorn, the town could only be reached by boat when it was first founded in 1912, and it remained a mullet-fishing village for years.

Changing Places 

Gulfport residents weren’t completely sure that festivities would go on as planned this year. 

On September 3, during the early hours of Labor Day, the Gulfport History Museum was set on fire. The museum is normally where the Founder’s Day events are held, and the singed porch is still under renovation. 

“We had to saw down the events a little because we don’t have museum access,” said Dorn. 

Despite the arson, the historical society will be hosting the event at Scout Hall, which is adjacent the historical museum at 5315 28th Ave. S. 

Tickets for the trolley can be purchased the day of at Scout Hall for $10 and tour times will be determined as the day goes on. 

“It just depends on how many people are there,” said Dorn. 

Gulfport Under the Stars 

After a day of art and sweets, the night time festivities begin.

Gulfport Under the Stars will be hosted on the lawn of the History Museum at 5301 28th Ave. S. from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The outdoor event will be complete with small plates, live music and drinks. 

“Almost all the restaurants in town are donating finger foods,” said Dorn. 

Patrons are encouraged to bring cash, because donations will be accepted in exchange for beer and wine. 

Mayor Sam Henderson will be DJing the event, and live music from Pianist John Shirley and Becca McCoy will be played until 11 p.m.

Gulfport Under the Stars passes are available at $15 per ticket or $25 for two. Get your tickets at the Gulfport Beach Bazaar or at squareup.com/market/gulfport-historical-society-inc/item/gulfport-under-the-stars

Photo 1: The Gulfport Casino is just one part of Gulfport’s rich history, which will be celebrated at the October 13 Founders Day event hosted by the Gulfport Historical Society. Photo courtesy of Florida Memory. 

Photo 2: A group of settlers pick pine needles in 1917 or 1918, according to the Gulfport Historical Society, Gulfport was only accessible by boat when it was founded in 1912. Learn more about local history at the Founder’s Day event on Saturday October, 13 at Scout Hall. 

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