Wacky Sea Critters Descend on Gecko Ball

Emcee Greg Stemm, left, interviews new arrivals on the red carpet.

Emcee Greg Stemm, left, interviews new arrivals on the red carpet.

Sea critters of all shapes, colors and sizes descended en mass on the Gulfport Casino on Saturday August 27 for the eighth annual Gecko Ball with the theme of “20,000 Geckos Under the Sea.”

Surprise! Becky Williams of Gulfport, second from right, got more than she bargained for when she signed up to attend the Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 27. Her children, Marina Williams, far left, and Evan Williams, far right, had planned a celebration of Becky’s 70th birthday at the event. The surprise included the presence of out-of-town friends Bonnie Gregory, second from left, and Bergie Osterloo, center, both of Rapid City, SD. “I love it!” birthday girl Becky said. The attendees, who took up a whole long table, all wore shark and clown fish hats. It’s a good bet they don’t have parties like the Gecko Ball in South Dakota.

Surprise! Becky Williams of Gulfport, second from right, got more than she bargained for when she signed up to attend the Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 27. Her children, Marina Williams, far left, and Evan Williams, far right, had planned a celebration of Becky’s 70th birthday at the event. The surprise included the presence of out-of-town friends Bonnie Gregory, second from left, and Bergie Osterloo, center, both of Rapid City, SD. “I love it!” birthday girl Becky said. The attendees, who took up a whole long table, all wore shark and clown fish hats. It’s a good bet they don’t have parties like the Gecko Ball in South Dakota.

Fish, sharks, octopi, fishermen, sea captains, jelly fish, pirates, mermaids, lobsters and Sponge Bob were among the 200 plus attendees. From 6 to 11 p.m. they ate, drank, laughed and danced as the band Big Night Out played tunes ranging from Latin to R&B.

Along with the live auction of seven theme-related art works by local artists, a highlight of the evening was the introduction of the 2016-17 Gecko Queen, Joan Prowton Samuel.

Linda Breen of Gulfport, center, takes a group selfie of her “pride” of jellyfish at the Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 27. The pride included three couples, with each person wearing a different color of the rainbow. Linda’s wife, Nora Reavis, left foreground, said they spent the entire afternoon making their costumes, which consisted of bubble wrap, ribbon, LED lights and funny eyeballs. Reavis noted that a group of jellyfish is really called a “swarm” but that the group preferred to call themselves a pride.

Linda Breen of Gulfport, center, takes a group selfie of her “pride” of jellyfish at the Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 27. The pride included three couples, with each person wearing a different color of the rainbow. Linda’s wife, Nora Reavis, left foreground, said they spent the entire afternoon making their costumes, which consisted of bubble wrap, ribbon, LED lights and funny eyeballs. Reavis noted that a group of jellyfish is really called a “swarm” but that the group preferred to call themselves a pride.

The Gecko Ball, sponsored by Gulfport Merchants Association, is one of several “gecko” events aimed at raising money for charity. The next and final event of the year: Geckofest this Saturday, September 3. Part of the proceeds from this year’s events will go to the Gulfport Historical Society and First Florida Frontiers.

Newly crowned 2016-17 Gecko Queen Joan Prowton Samuel and her entourage on the dance floor of the Gulfport Casino.

Newly crowned 2016-17 Gecko Queen Joan Prowton Samuel and her entourage on the dance floor of the Gulfport Casino.

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