Holiday Hoopla Braves the Weather

Heidi Allen and Stephanie Richards enjoy the fest from under their umbrellas, trying to stay dry in the off and on rain. “It’s pretty icky,” said Allen.

Cold, rainy weather put a slight damper on the holiday cheer at this year’s Holiday Hoopla event in downtown Gulfport, Saturday December 9. Attendees huddled under umbrellas and rain coats, but spirits were still bright as they browsed items from local vendors and enjoyed live music from New Horizons Band of Gulfport and classic Christmas carolers.

Restaurant and retail workers from local joints like Stella’s and Gulfport Beach Bazaar dressed up for the event, serving tables and selling goods in spirited Christmas clothing.

The event was sponsored by the Gulfport Merchants Association and a portion of the proceeds benefited Operation Santa, sponsored by the Gulfport Police Department.

The event ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and was followed by the 32nd Annual Lighted Christmas Boat Parade.

Dressed as an elf, Jo Silverleaf takes a photo of Santa posing with Sheila Rice and her dog Yogi outside of Reef Dog Grooming on Saturday. 

Retail worker Suzanne Harding and shop owner Mike Fagan pose for a photo behind the check-out counter at Gulfport Beach Bazaar.

Eric and Lulanne Skeval, owners of Lulu’s Kettlecorn, said the rain affected their business during the Hoopla. “It’s making it slow, but we’re hopeful it will get better,” said Lulanne. 

Sue Lentz, Gary Lentz, Tony Lenari and Elizabeth Smith pose for photo during the event Saturday. “My favorite part about this is dressing up in the fancy clothes and talking to the villagers,” said Smith, remaining in character. 

Frank Severin held down the fort at a booth collecting donations for the Veteran’s Health Network. The organization uses donations to help veterans with PTSD. 

New Horizons Band of Gulfport provided live music for the event, focusing on holiday themed music and a small crowd gathered behind, taking photos. 

Brian Liggins working behind the counter at Stella’s while dressed as a festive Christmas tree. 

John Evans of J and J Trends works quickly to get his products into the tent and out of the rain at the Holiday Hoopla Festival.





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