Updated 8/29, 1:58 p.m.
The Gulfport Lions Club was forced to cancel its biggest fundraising event of the year and a Gulfport tradition – the Labor Day Fish Fry on September 5.
“We decided to cancel the event due to the major construction going on around the clubhouse. The contractor has most of the surrounding roadways blocked, and much of the parking has been temporarily eliminated,” said Rob Vincent, Gulfport’s chief of police and president of the Gulfport Lions Club. “We’re also facing an unpredictable tropical weather event that could be upon us at that time.”
According to Jim O’Reilly, Gulfport City Manager, construction near the Lion’s Club building is part of the 49th St. Outfall Project, a city water quality project.
“The city is constructing new stormwater treatment ponds at the Marina. There will be road closures in different areas around the Marina as the project is constructed,” said Don Sopak, Gulfport Public Works director. “The project will be completed in February 2017.”
The Gulfport Lions Club, located at 4630 Tifton Dr. S., was chartered in 1948 and is part of Lions International, the largest service organization in the world. The local chapter is an active group that donates proceeds from its events to various community outreach programs such as the Christmas Toy Shop and food certificates for needy families, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Gulfport Elementary School and helps provide eye exams and glasses for those who need assistance. All money raised less food, advertising and utility expenses goes to the club’s Activities Account, which funds donations. None of the club’s income is used for administrative costs.
The cancellation of the Labor Day Fish Fry means less money to provide for these community needs. According to Vincent, most of the proceeds from the Fish Fry go to the club’s biggest charity, the Christmas Toy Shop. By cancelling the event, they will lose between $600 to $1200 in donations.
The next Lions Club fundraising event will be the monthly pancake breakfast that begins the first week in October through May.
“Cancelling the Fish Fry was a very difficult decision for us given the history of this particular event. There will be plans made to add an additional pancake breakfast in the fall in hopes of recouping the anticipated loss of up to $1000 to our program budget,” said Vincent. “As soon as we have a date we will make an announcement.”