Holiday Hoopla: Shopping and Weird Fun

Brian Liggins of Gulfport won the Most Creative category of the new Weird Wheels competition with his pink flamingo-themed costume and ride. As he rode, he proclaimed, “Keep Gulfport Weird!”

Gulfport’s 10th-annual Holiday Hoopla on Saturday, December 8, provided dozens of vendors for shoppers to choose from on Beach Boulevard along with roaming themed characters for entertainment and a new feature called Weird Wheels that showcased creativity.

“There are some great ideas for presents here that are creative and you can’t get anywhere else,” said Vice Mayor Christine Brown who was shopping at the event at about 3 p.m. “Each booth is unique so there’s no duplication down the street.”

Entrants for Weird Wheels were on display beginning as early as 10 a.m. at the north end of Beach Boulevard between 28th and 29th Avenues South.

Rules for the competition stipulated that each vehicle “must have at least one wheel and be capable of carrying at least one person. Other than that, the more creative the better!”

Awards were announced at about 4 p.m. and were given for the most creative, best in show, best business and the people’s choice.

Suzie King of Gulfport tries on a miniature holiday-themed hat that may become a gift at a holiday swap party. “Everybody at the swap is going to want this hat,” said King. “That’s the goal – bring a gift that everybody wants and fights over.”

At least three veteran Holiday Hoopla shoppers got into the spirit of the season by sporting specialty reindeer antlers and snowman ears. Pictured from left are Marlene Parness of Gulfport, Lorae Malec of Gulfport and Cindy Forness of St. Petersburg. Also sporting ears is Fancy, a 5-year-old Shih Tzu held by Malec. “It’s festive and I bought some gifts,” said Parness. “They made me wear these ears,” said Forness. The head piece “was waiting for me when I got to their house.”

Thistle, seated, won Best in Show in the new Weird Wheels competition while riding in her remote-controlled Merry Christmas sleigh guided by owner, Gary Graham of St. Petersburg. “Thistle started limping last Christmas because of arthritis in one shoulder,” said Graham. “For all the parades and things that we go in, I figured I’d get a wagon for her.” A remote-control Monster Truck pulls Thistle in her wagon along the street. “All of the little kids just love her,” said Graham. “She is so good at getting petted and loved on.”

“I’ve always wanted to be a gypsy,” said Laura Shepherd of Gulfport. “So, this is my approximation of a gypsy caravan.” The 1982 Ford F-150 truck that she takes to music festivals when camping has felt sides that can be rolled up and down to adjust the interior temperature, an adjustable plastic rain shield, an awning with fringe, flags for carrying in parades, mosquito netting, a colorful flowered blanket, padding for sleeping and an area over the cab designed as a closet, she said. The tent is “just tall enough that I can stand in it.”

In Germany, Santa Claus greets well-behaved children while the others have to deal with a character called Krampus, a half hairy goat and half horned demon that literally scares people into being nice and not naughty, said Jo Silverleaf of Gulfport. Silverleaf was costumed as her interpretation of Krampus for the first time. She also decorated her truck with German-themed Christmas decorations such as ball ornaments, shiny chains and hanging lanterns. The truck was even equipped with reindeer reins. “The skulls represent the Krampus,” she said.



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