Gulfport loves their grand openings and a good party.
On Tuesday, September 29 at 8:30 a.m. a sizable, masked crowd gathered to celebrate a grand opening like none other – the grand reopening of the City of Gulfport.
In a ceremonious acceptance of the “new normal,” city officials, business leaders and the Gulfport Merchants Chamber gathered at Gulfport’s Welcome Center early Tuesday morning.
“We’ve been waiting for six months and two weeks for this moment,” said GMC President Barbara Banno.
“Nothing makes me more proud and excited to be standing here today, to represent the Gulfport Merchants Chamber and the reopening and the relaunching of the Tuesday Morning Market,” said Banno. “It’s such a staple in the city, and it’s really something that unifies this city, all of our businesses and brings us together as a community.”
“It’s about time. I’m happy to see this all happening again,” said Gini Fagan, owner and operator of Beach Bazaar. “This city is too small to not have any events going on.”
“I want to take the opportunity to thank the business community that spearheaded the opportunity to reopen Gulfport,” said City Manager Jim O’Reilly. “It’s been a long time since St. Patrick’s Day, when a lot of these things started. So, here we are and I hope everyone practices social distancing.”
Say Hello to GulfportSTRONG
But is it safe? COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the U.S. We are still very much in a pandemic. Gulfport officials and business leaders say they’re making safety the highest priority in reopening.
In conjunction with the reopening, the city collaborated with the GMC and Carroway + Rose to develop a campaign called “GulfportSTRONG.” (STRONG is an acronym for Social distance; Take the test; Routinely wash your hands; Only go out if you feel well; Notify your doctor if you feel sick; Go out wearing a mask.)
“The GulfportSTRONG campaign focuses on the safety and responsibility of visitors while encouraging residents and visitors to be respectful to each other in following health and safety guidance during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor Sam Henderson.
The first event to return under the GulfportSTRONG campaign is the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market. Soon to follow are the First Friday Art Walk on October 2, followed by the Third Saturday IndieFaire Market.
“We’re working with a less-than-ideal situation, but we’re rolling with the punches and operating within our new reality,” said Banno. “We don’t want to put anyone in danger, but realistically, we knew we had to find a way to give our community a sense of normalcy and our businesses a chance to welcome visitors safely back through their doors. That’s how we came up with the idea: GulfportSTRONG, and since so many of our events take place outside, we realized that by working with the city, we could reinvent the events and strengthen our community.”
“We all are working together to bring visitors and patrons back to the City of Gulfport in a safe and responsible manner,” said Henderson.
“Gulfport is doing it right,” said District 69 State Representative Jennifer Webb. “When we look for leadership during these times, our cities, like Gulfport, are the leaders that we need.”
Webb expressed confidence in the way Gulfport is handling the reopening.
“We’re masking up, we’re keeping our distance. We’re protecting our vendors and our business owners, customers and community,” said Webb.