Q: I’ve lived in Gulfport for almost five years and constantly notice that the majority of the lights on the trees on Beach Boulevard are broken. Since Beach Boulevard is the main focal point of Gulfport, shouldn’t we do our best in making sure it is esthetically pleasing for visitors? Any idea on whose job it is to fix them? – Via Facebook
A: Blame the squirrels. They like the taste of wiring, says City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
The city manager says tree growth and the “preponderance of squirrels who enjoy the taste of the wiring” has caused damage to the lights.
Gulfport’s Parks Department has ultimate responsibility for repairing the lights, and right now they’re working with the Gulfport Merchants’ Association (GMA), to rewire and rework the decorative lights in the trees.
In the coming year, the city will install a new light pattern. The new pattern will also allow for easier maintenance than the current system, which requires a bucket truck.
“We are aware of this ongoing issue and have included $12,000 in the city’s annual budget for tree light repairs and improvements,” City Manager Jim O’Reilly says.
The city did not have an immediate solution for the squirrels’ gastronomic proclivities, but the city manager said he hoped that by wrapping the lights lower the squirrels may lose interest.