Banner Year for GeckoFest

Cathy Salustri

Banner Year for GeckoFest
Parade watchers aren’t safe on GeckoFest. Every year the mayor leads the parade, entreating people to join the parade instead of just standing on the sidelines. He shakes his gecko stick and chants up and down Beach Boulevard. By the time the parade winds up and down Beach Boulevard, more the mayor’s plea to “Join the parade – it’s time to join the Gecko Parade!” has worked, and Gulfport’s GeckoFest gives way to one long parade.

Before and after the parade, bands and buskers entertain the throngs of people who come to Gulfport to “go gecko” for the city’s annual GeckoFest, an end-of-summer street party that starts just after breakfast and ends well after nightfall.

By the time the closing band played the Casino stage this year, people packed the streets. Some estimates place the crowd at 30,000, and while the Gabber couldn’t verify that number, area businesses praised the Gulfport Merchant’s Association for the annual event.

“I think it was a fantastic event and so many people visiting our city.This is what helps me get through September, which is historically the slowest month of the year,” Stella’s co-owner Barbara Banno said. “We almost doubled our business from last year.”

“It was a record day for the company,” Joe Guenther says. His wife’s restaurant, O’Maddy’s, hosted the pirate staging area where the pirates could come get out of the heat and enjoy some free food and water. “It’s our second busiest day of the year. It’s busier than the Fourth of July. I’d like to thank [the Gulfport Merchant’s Association] for all of their support and all of the work they put in. I think they did a fantastic job.”

To view more GeckoFest photos, click here. Have photos? You can add your own to our album.