We want people shopping downtown instead of at the malls,” said Suzanne King, organizer of the 9th Annual Holiday Hoopla, which will be held Saturday December 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event, at the 3100 block of Gulfport Boulevard S., is a celebration of arts, crafts, foods and live music. It is a chance to support local businesses this holiday season with local artisans and craftsmen, galleries and boutiques participating.
“It is definitely a community-based event with over 100 local vendor and community group booths,” said King.
There will be a variety of holiday-themed music, holiday carolers, dance performances, and roving Charles Dickens-style street performers. The characters are always willing to stop for a photo opportunity with Hoopla patrons. In addition, said King, “We will also have three Santas: a father Christmas Santa, a tropical Santa and a bad Santa.”
Several types of entertainment will perform during the Hoopla including local school bands, choral groups, local musicians and performing arts groups. The New Horizons band will be playing from 12 to 2 p.m. “Project Free, which is a gallery on Beach Boulevard that works with developmentally challenged kids and adults through music and art, will be there also,” said King.
The event will offer a gift-wrapping station staffed by Ward 3 Councilmember Yolanda Roman and friends. They will be wrapping both boxes and gift bags, including an ornament on each gift. Proceeds from the wrapping station will go to Puerto Rican hurricane victims.
Gulfport Neighbors will also be collecting toys, monetary and giftcard donations for Gulfport Police Department’s Operation Santa at their booth during the event. They have set a goal of reaching $1500 for the cause.
Admission for the event is free. The 32nd annual Gulfport boat parade begins right after the event at 6 p.m. on Boca Ciega Bay, south of Holiday Hoopla.
“We always team up with Boca Ciega Yacht club so they can participate in the Hoopla and the boat parade right after,” said King.
The event is organized by SIC Promotions and Gulfport Merchants Association. Holiday Hoopla is still looking for volunteers to help work the event. To volunteer call 727-322-5217 or go to signupgenius.com/go/20f0d4aa9ab22a3fa7-holiday1.