Photos by Tropical Focus Photography
It’s lucky number 13 for the Gulfport Pink Flamingo Home Tour this year. The 13th Annual Gulfport Tour of Homes will kick off Saturday, March 3 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The approximately two-mile tour is the largest fundraiser for the Gulfport Area Chamber of Commerce and will feature ten homes in the city’s northwest, as well as the Stetson University College of Law campus. Based on previous tours, event organizers are expecting between 800 and 1,000 people to attend this year.
“It brings the city together,” says Karen Love, volunteer.
To check out Stetson Law, guests will link up with student ambassadors at the campus flagpole and enjoy a guided tour around the campus for about thirty minutes. The addition of the college campus is new to the tour this year, but the history of Stetson College goes way back. Stetson has occupied the building since 1954, but in the 1920s, the campus was home to the Roylat Hotel, designed by German architect Richard Kiehnel.
The history of Gulfport’s northwest doesn’t stop at Stetson, however. One of the homes on the route, a 1920a Mediterranean Revival owned by the Bertleson family, purportedly once housed Babe Ruth. Rumor has it that the baseball legend stayed there during spring training, crossing the street to sign a baseball contract at the then-Roylat Hotel. Although unverified, it’s a bit of Gulfport lore that could knock this tour out of the park for 2018.
All ten houses on the list will welcome guests to their homes to view first exteriors and then interiors, but outside living space is also focus.
“You’ll really see how much we live outside,” said Love, reflecting on many of the homes’ roomy porches and grassy yards.
Houses range from a 720-square-foot residence to a Spanish-style home on three lots of land. No two floor plans are alike. Love described the homes as eclectic and funky.
“Everybody loves Gulfport,” says Love. “We’re just trying to give them a good look at how we really live.”
Love encourages participants to walk or bike the tour route, but three vehicles will circle the route all day if attendees want to hitch a ride. The tour will begin at the Most Holy Name of Jesus Church, at 5800 15th Ave. S. Guests are invited to take as much time as they like to enjoy the day, and Love says the tour usually takes about two hours.
Advanced tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the Beach Bazzar or the Gulfport Welcome Center until 8 p.m. on March 2. Tickets are also available online, with sales ending at 8 a.m. on February 28. Forget to grab a ticket ahead of time? No problem. Tickets will be sold for $25 on the day of the tour.
For more information about the event, guests can connect with The Pink Flamingo Home Tour on Faceook or online at pinkflamingohometour.com.