Gecko Events Earned $5,500 for Charity

A superhero-themed gecko sign hanging at this year’s GeckoFest. GeckoFest 2018, combined with the Gecko Art art show and Gecko Ball, raised $5,500 for charity.

Earnings from Gecko World (Art Gecko show, Gecko Ball and Gecko Fest) totaled $5,500 for 2018 according to Barbara Banno, Gulfport Merchant Chamber (GMC) President. The funds were given to three different charities: Operation Regroup, The Sonia Plotnick Health Fund and the Gulfport Senior Center Foundation. 

“The other thousand is a thousand dollars we gave to the artists grant,” said Banno. “It’s a way for us to give back to the arts community.” 

The artists grant is a new program through Gecko World this year, benefitting one artist chosen after submitting a grant application. 

“What that came with was $500 up front,” said Banno. “That helps [the artist] get set up for art walks, purchase materials like tents and lighting and tables, and whatever they need to be able to do an art walk.” 

The grant also covered the costs of 10 art walks per year, plus an additional $250 once all art walks are completed. 

Banno says it’s a great way to build up new artists and Gulfport’s art community. Next year, Gecko World hopes to support two artists with a grant. 

“This gives us an opportunity for new and upcoming artist to really put themselves out there and represent that arts in Gulfport,” said Banno. Gary Alpers, an acrylic painter,  received the artist’s grant this year. 

Costs for the city of Gulfport for Gecko Fest totaled $6.445.95. GeckoFest paid for first responder costs ($3,184), leaving the final costs for the city (the in-kind cosponsorship) at $3,261.95. GeckoFest operated a little differently this year, however, allowing brick and mortar businesses to handle alcohol sales for the first time. 

“During GeckoFest, you didn’t see the typical events beer truck,” said Justin Shea, Cultural Facilities Events Supervisor for the city of Gulfport “The GMC gave the opportunity to the brick and mortar restaurants to apply to extend their alcohol license into the special event zone.” 

Shea says this allowed business owners to capitalize on the 20,000 people in the area during the 2018 street festival. “Hence, why the special event program, 20 years ago, was written as an economic driver in the community,” said Shea.

According to reports provided by the city of Gulfport, The Art Gecko show cost $96 in staffing and generated $439 for the city’s general fund. Gecko Ball cost $585 for staffing, $449.32 in special beverages, and generated $5,065 for the city’s general fund. 


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