This is not your mother’s history museum.
Last Saturday event, the Gulfport Historical Society hosted its first-ever fundraising dinner, Gulfport Under the Stars, on the grounds of the Gulfport History Museum. As part of the board’s effort to renew interest in the museum and the Society, the Society took its annual birthday celebration in a new direction by adding an evening event.
The daytime celebration still included cake, popcorn, and the mullet toss, but the Society added an “historical” dog parade and the crowning of Gulfport’s first-ever Mullet King. At night, the museum transformed into a catered dinner party, with three local restaurants – T and Me, O’Maddy’s, and Pia’s Trattoria – showcasing their food for museum supporters. The Florida Boys, featuring T.C. Carr and Pete Gallagher, provided entertainment until after dinner, at which point Mayor Sam Henderson took over the music.
“This is a beautiful event,” many patrons told President Miki Vaughan, who said she also received requests to hold the event again.
The dinner marked a departure from the usual offerings at the museum. The museum board, Vaughan said, wanted to try different things to re-energize Gulfport. She said participation had dwindled over the past years. The Society invited locals to offer feedback, and Gulfport Under the Stars, the Mullet King and the “historical” doggie parade all came from ideas submitted by the public.
The museum’s new hours (Tuesday, 9 a.m. – noon; Friday, 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.; and Saturdays, 10 p.m. – 2 p.m. and again from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. on third Saturdays), a monthly porch party with food and speakers, and other upcoming events are all designed, President Vaughan said at a recent meeting, to bring in more people.
After Gecko Queen Faun Weaver crowned Charlie Williams Mullet King last Saturday, he spoke briefly about the importance of history, the museum, and the Gulfport Historical Society.
“Without young people, it will die,” King Williams said.