Twenty years in the making and no one saw this coming. Now, organizers must decide if it’s time to release the geckos for 2020.
Each year, Gulfport celebrates the end of summer with its largest festival of the year, GeckoFest. The City of Gulfport and the Gulfport Merchants Chamber (GMC) have decided to continue to plan the event in hopes that coronavirus will have said its final farewell well before the end of August. The new plans will have GeckoFest over two days, September 5 and 6, with fireworks on September 5.
“If we are to have GeckoFest, we need to start planning it now,” said President of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber Barb Banno. “We’re being cautiously optimistic and considering the wellness and health of our community first.”
Up to this point in the year, just about every local event has been canceled, including the upcoming Independence Day celebrations. To make up for the cancellations, GeckoFest organizers have made GeckoFest a two-day event, to include a fireworks display put on by the city.
Organizers will meet Thursday, July 2 to talk about moving forward with GeckoFest activities.
A press release put out by the GMC June 25 stated: “We’re working with the City of Gulfport on safety protocols, local law, and information sharing to make sure GeckoFest proceeds in the safest way possible. We’ll adjust our plans to ensure we put the safety of our community first.”
Many future events will be determined based on whether Governor Ron DeSantis approves the later phases of Florida’s reopening plan. If phases three and four are not approved due to spikes in positive COVID-19 cases, then the Gecko Art Fest, the Gecko Ball, and the pub crawl will be cancelled.
“If it’s not in the best interest for the community,” assured Banno, “we will work with the city to cancel the event.”