The Gulfport Merchants Chamber’s traditional end-of-summer street party, GeckoFest, featured a parade, vendors, street performers, live music and revelers in themed costumes all day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. in downtown Gulfport Saturday, September 4.
The brightest change in plans since GeckoFest was canceled in 2019, was the City of Gulfport’s fireworks display at the end of the night.
However, foot traffic was noticeably lighter this year, said Suzie King of SIK Promotions.
“It was steady – not quite as busy, but it was fun,” King said. “It was not the attendance we are used to, but aside from that, everything was smooth with no incidents.”
“I think the fireworks show was a great way to end the night,” Banno said. “If numbers were down at all I’d say it was due to COVID-19.”
Organizers recommended that attendees wear face masks and follow other COVID-related CDC safety guidelines during the event.
The Lizard Queen
Gecko Queen Jody Robinson passed the crown she had held since 2019 to new queen Elizabeth Hendricks on Saturday.
For Robinson, it was bittersweet.
“It felt okay because I pranced around in it all day, but it was sort of sad because the crown lived in this one place at my house for two years, and then it was gone,” Robinson said. “It’s like you are a movie star when you’re wearing it.”
Hendricks, a volunteer at the Gulfport Historical Society and a freelance public relations coordinator, accepted the crown at the 5:30 p.m. coronation event.
This year, the royalty was hand-selected by a committee, rather than a vote.
“I was hoping to say a few words on stage, but I was really hot after the full dance number,” Hendricks said. “I love our town; I love how everyone lifts each other up all the time.”
The queen is traditionally crowned at the Gecko Ball, but the indoor event was postponed until October 23 due to concerns about rising COVID cases.