When loved ones die, one way to honor them is in the form of a memorial. In Gulfport, there are two ways this tradition has taken shape – with green benches and brick pavers.
Around town, there are a few benches that have memorial plaques, said Parks and Facilities Maintenance Superintendent Tim Connor.
But for the past three to four years since he’s been with the department, there is no formal memorial signage program for city-owned benches. There also is no official locator map, though most of the city-owned benches are found in parks, along Beach Boulevard, on the beach or the pier.
“I believe that some people are putting name plaques on them because they were a favorite bench to sit on,” he said.
Recently installed plaques on benches are part of a grassroots movement, said Connor.
Benches cost from $500 to $700 depending on whether they are made of plastic, metal or concrete, he said. “A lot of people want to officially donate them but when they find out how much they are, they don’t want to come up with that kind of money.”
He then refers them to the Gulfport Library where the Circle of Friends non-profit group has a formal and tax-deductible program for memorial brick pavers. “The bricks are more economical,” he said.
One brick is $100 while a two-brick combination is $150, said Director of Library and Information Technology Dave Mather.
The engraved bricks that are located at the entrance were sold out in the early 1990s, said Mather.
“The ones that we are still selling are located in the Circle of Friends garden. People can dedicate to whomever they want or whatever animal they want.”
The exterior fenced garden area is accessible by first entering the library.
Each brick can have up to four lines consisting of a maximum of 18 characters that includes letters, numbers, spaces and punctuation marks, said Mather.
The vendor says “each brick looks better with a maximum of three lines,” he said.
From placing a brick order to install, the process takes about a month.
Proceeds from memorial brick sales goes toward “programming at the library and also maintaining some of the newer plants in the garden,” said Mather.
For more information on library memorial bricks, call Mather at 727-893-1075 or visit mygulfport.us/gpl/circle-of-friends-of-the-gulfport-library.