undreds of visitors enjoyed the festive mood at the 8th
annual Holiday Hoopla event Saturday, December 10 in downtown Gulfport. Shoppers crowded booths featuring locally made crafts and products, performers entertained passersby and live music filled the air. The event was sponsored by the Gulfport Merchants Association and a portion of the proceeds is being allocated to Operation Santa and Gulfport families in need.
From left, Gulfport City Councilmember Yolanda Roman poses with Christine Gallagher-Spinney and Makenzie and Tony Spinney of Gulfport after they gave money to buy two holiday dinner baskets of non-perishable goods for users of the Gulfport Multipurpose Senior Center Food Pantry. Why two baskets? “We like the Senior Center,” Christine said, explaining that she and her husband own a cell phone store and have met a number of the seniors while giving classes on cell phone use at the center. Plus, she said, “The Senior Center is lending us a wheelchair so my mother can attend my daughter’s graduation at UCF” this month. Roman said her goal at the Holiday Hoopla had been to sell 10 baskets at $10 each but that 135 baskets had been purchased. Members of the Gulfport Teen Council helped with the effort, decorating the booth and promoting the idea of the baskets to passersby, Roman said. “They were just terrific,” she said. All the buyers filled out a holiday card to accompany each gift.
Louwanda Fadden of Gulfport holds a balloon candy cane made by Robert the Balloon Man of Tampa at the Holiday Hoopla. “You never grow too old for this,” she said, noting that she bought the balloon for herself
Jackson Motherway, 8, of Northport, takes a break from the Holiday Hoopla festivities to pet Sahara, a Weimeraner owned by Kathi Kloepfer of Holiday. Jackson loves animals and his family has two dogs, three hamsters, two ferrets and a dove, said his mother Allie Motherway. The family was visiting Gulfport for the first time and Allie said she was impressed. “I love that the houses are close together and everybody is friendly,” she said.
Thelma Duff Jr. of Pinellas Park and Don Sankovitch of Gulfport, dressed respectively as the characters Mrs. Cratchit and her husband Bob from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” admire art work for sale at Creative Chaos. Duff said she bought an art print at the event as well as a ticket for a theater performance. “I actually spent a lot of money,” she said. This was the third year the two were hired as roving performers at the Hoopla.
Serenity Hensley, 8, of St. Petersburg, wearing cat face painted by her mother Autumn, shows off a big plate of fried dough Autumn bought for the two to share. “It tastes like cake and doughnuts and crab,” Serenity said. Fortunately, she likes crab.