Special thanks to Jon Ziegler for his help with this piece.
The Gecko Ball, arguably the most popular annual event in Gulfport, was canceled this year, like so much else, due to COVID-19. But even a pandemic can’t dampen the spirit of devotees of Gulfport’s unofficial mascot, who are dreaming of next year – and planning their costumes for “Geckostand” 2021. Gecko Queen Jody Robinson will fulfill her queenly duties for another year. In the meantime, the Gabber’s taking a trip down memory lane with the help of costumer and regular Gecko Ball organizer, Jon Ziegler, to celebrate Gecko Ball through the years.
2009 The Gecko Ball debuted in 2009 with no theme and few pictures are available. It was held at Bellini’s (now Sea Dog Cantina). It was the year the Geckotini, the signature cocktail for all gecko balls since, was introduced.
2010 The first themed Gecko Ball: “Geckos in Wonderland.” It was held at the Peninsula Inn, and completely sold out. This was the first year organizers introduced a live gecko art auction. Artists got gecko templates to showcase their artistic talents.
2011 This year’s theme was “The Lizard of Oz.” The Peninsula Inn hosted and it was, once again, a complete sell out.
2012 “Hooray for Geckowood” was the theme for 2012, and was the last Gecko Ball held at the Peninsula Inn because the party was getting too big.
2013 The first Gecko Ball held at the Casino, “Gecko Night Fever,” sold out at 400 people. The first Gecko Queen, Faun Weaver, was crowned. This year also saw the first public vote on the Gecko Ball theme.
2014 “Roaring Geckos” was a hit, selling out at 400 tickets. The Gecko Queen that year was Wesley Ray.
2015 NOLA vibes abounded with a “Gecko Gras” theme and Vivian Hawker became the Gecko Queen.
2016 Attendees went “20,000 Geckos Under the Sea” and Joan Samuel was crowned Gecko Queen. This year introduced the Gecko Art Show, which highlighting artists who created geckos for the live auction. This was the first year artists were given free rein to use whatever medium they chose for their geckos.
2017 “Geckostock” proved to be a groovy theme and Brian Liggins took home the Gecko Queen honor.
2018 “GeckoCon” celebrated the comicon culture with superheroes and more for the 10th year Gecko Ball. The Gecko Queen that year was Jon Ziegler.
2019 “Geckos of The Round Table” saw Jody Robinson crowned Gecko Queen. Her reign will continue to next year.