Press Releases

Most recent GeckoFest Press Releases:

  • Gecko Ball Tickets Go On Sale July 4th

    June 6, 2016: For Immediate Release

    Contact: John Haugen; (727) 623-0524; jhaugen@hudsonmkt.com

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Tickets for the Eighth Annual Gecko Ball will be available beginning July 4th.

    The Ball will be celebrated with a theme of “20,000 Geckos Under the Sea!” on Saturday, August 27th, 2016. Plan now for the event known as Gulfport’s party of the year!

    The party will be a celebration of all things under, on and near the sea, as well as the classic 1954 film and the 1870 Jules Verne adventure novel. Décor and scenery will transport ball-goers into a vivid, colorful underwater tableau. Expect to experience over-the-top revelry and costumes, including sea creatures real and imagined, as well as a cast and crew of other salty characters. Ball-goers are encouraged to develop costumes relating to the film or book, to the sea, or to geckos, or any creative combination! A costume contest will help decide some of the best outfits at the Ball.

    20,000 Geckos Under the Sea” will be held at the historic waterfront Gulfport Casino Ballroom (5500 Shore Boulevard South) from 6 p.m. until 11 p.m. on Saturday, August 27th. The event gets larger and more popular each year, including over the top décor, full cash bar, geckotinis and other cocktail specials, passed hors d’oeuvre and tapas. Live music by Big Night Out will fill the dance floor this year with the sounds of the islands, tropics, Latin, R & B and more. Hundreds of silent auction items will be up for bids, and the annual live auction of artist-created geckos will once again be a highlight of the evening. Witness the whimsical coronation of Gulfport’s next Gecko Queen!

    Tickets are $35 per person and will go on sale at 9 a.m. on Monday, July 4th at the Gulfport Welcome Center (3101 Beach Boulevard South) or the Gulfport Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Boulevard South). Tickets may also be purchased online with a credit or debit card at VisitGulfportFlorida.com. The Gecko Ball sells out every year, so would-be Ball-goers should purchase tickets as far in advance as possible. While they last, reserved tables of ten or twelve are available for group reservations only if all tickets for the table are purchased in person at the Gulfport Welcome Center in one transaction.

    Gulfport celebrates the Gecko each year with a series of whimsical events at the end of summer. The Gecko Ball occurs one week prior to the 16th Annual GeckoFest street festival (September 3rd), and each year the Ball’s theme also lends itself to costumes that GeckoFest participants are encouraged to flaunt during the Fest’s walking parade. The Ninth Annual Gecko Crawl will be held August 13th this year, and the second annual “Gecko Artists’ Show” will be held during the month of August, with an opening reception on August 5th. All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association and a portion of proceeds is donated to local charities each year. Donations this year will be made to the Gulfport Historical Society and First Florida Frontiers. Visit GeckoFest.com for more information on all events.

    For more information and updates on the Gecko Ball, go to and “like” the Gecko Ball Facebook page: www.Facebook.com/GeckoBall.

    Contact John Haugen for details by email to jhaugen@hudsonmkt.com.

  • Call to Artists Announced for Creation of Geckos

    April 12, 2016: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Jessica Sager; 727-608-0070; Jessica.Sager@live.com.

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Organizers of Gulfport’s 8th Annual Gecko Ball have announced a call to artists for the creation of their interpretation of a gecko. The live auction of artist-created geckos has become a much-anticipated tradition during each Gecko Ball. Seven artists will be chosen to create geckos for the Ball this year. For the first time in Gecko Ball history, each artist will receive 25% of the proceeds from the auction of their gecko. Additionally, each artist selected will receive two tickets to the Gecko Ball and will be acknowledged during the event.

    The seven selected artists’ pieces will be unveiled at the Gecko Kickoff Opening Reception art exhibit on Friday, August 5, 2016, 6 p.m. until 8p.m. at the Catherine Hickman Theater lobby/gallery space in Gulfport. The artists chosen will also have an opportunity to have selections from their own bodies of work displayed during a curated exhibit at the Hickman Theater space throughout the month of August. Following the opening reception, each artist’s gecko will be moved and displayed in a local business in Gulfport’s Waterfront District until the day of the Ball on Saturday, August 27th.

    To be considered, artists are invited to submit a brief resume, photos of some of their work and/or links to online sources of information about themselves and their work. It is necessary that artists predetermine and express a concept of the gecko that they would create if selected, including what types of materials will be incorporated. Geckos may be created from any material(s), and may be a three-dimensional or sculptural piece, but no more than four feet in length. Use of a steel form from past years is no longer required. Artists should clearly state that the gecko they create is either intended for indoor display only or suitable for display in outdoor weather conditions. Artists are responsible for purchasing any materials needed to create their designs. Selected artists must complete their geckos no later than July 8, 2016.

    The deadline to submit an expression of interest will be May 16th. For more information and to submit materials, contact selection committee Chair Jessica Sager by phone at 727-608-0070 or email to Jessica.Sager@live.com. Submissions may be sent via email or postal mail to 2624 54th Street South, Gulfport FL, 33707. Over 50 geckos have been created by artists for auction at the Gecko Ball in previous years, each becoming a collector’s item. A portion of proceeds from the Gecko Ball, the Gecko Pub Crawl (August 6th) and the GeckoFest street festival (September 3th) is donated to local charities each year and/or used to fund public art installations. All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association.

    The theme of this year’s Gecko Ball is “20,000 Geckos Under the Sea,” a celebration of all things in, on and near the sea, as well as the classic 19th century Jules Verne adventure novel and the popular movie which followed in 1954. Costumes are encouraged! The event includes catered fare, cash bar, live music and dancing, coronation of the next Gecko Queen, a costume contest, silent auctions and the live auction of artist-created geckos. Tickets for Gecko Ball will go on sale July 4th, and it is known to sell out every year. To receive updates on the Gecko Ball, including announcements of ticket sales and locations, visit and “like” the Facebook page for Gecko Ball at www.facebook.com/geckoball. Ticket sales announcements will also be published in local media. For more information about Gecko Ball, please contact Daniel Hodge at (727) 366-4086 or email dan@igc.org.

  • GeckoFest Brings Music, Magic, Thrills to Gulfport

    August 26, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Suzanne King; suzfest@gmail.com; 727-322-5217

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Gulfport’s 15th annual GeckoFest promises a full day of free family-friendly fun on Saturday, September 5th from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. 

    The streets of the waterfront village will be filled with live music on two stages, hundreds of food, art and craft vendors, kids’ activities, and up close and personal street performances by a bevy of acrobats, magicians, daredevils, dancers, aerialists, escape artists, fire eaters, balloon artists and costumed characters.  GeckoFest is located along Beach and Shore Boulevards in the heart of Gulfport. 

    geckofest 2015 entertainment guide

    The theme for this year’s festival is “Gecko Gras!” 

    Join in the spirit of New Orleans if you wish and arrive in costume with your Mardi Gras finest.  Or feel free to “geckofy” yourself.  The GeckoFest wacky walking parade invites everyone to join in at 6:00.  A costume contest for kids and adults will take place after the parade.

    The festival will be flanked by two stages offering music throughout the day and night. 

    The line-up for 2015 includes hours of lively tunes from singers and bands including the Hot Tub Club (featuring Gulfport’s own Mayor and First Lady), Yard Dog Charlie, Joel and Dakota, the Southern Road Dog Band, and Gumbo Boogie.

    To help you put your NOLA moves together, Cajun dance lessons will be offered to the crowd by Jim Hance twice during the day. 

    In support of our area’s youth, GeckoFest will also present BlueRose, Competitive Edge Dance Company and Project Free’s Rising Stars.

    GeckoFest ends on a high note each year with its ever-popular, high-energy street dances at both stages starting at 8:00.

    GeckoFest’s strolling and stationary street performers bring fun, thrills and a circus atmosphere to the village with a chance to get close to the action. 

    Entertainers will make you laugh, gasp and applaud.  Step right up and participate in a magic trick.  Witness extreme stunts happening just a few feet away.  Tie up an escape artist and watch him maneuver out of his bonds.  Pose for photos with your favorite characters.  Take home your own free, fanciful balloon creation.

    This year’s street performers include past favorites and brand new ones. 

    Father-son duo Dallas and Nick are reprising their amazing feats of fire juggling and escape artistry. 

    The Amazing Kenny returns with his mixture of stilt-walking, juggling, fire-eating and ballooning. 

    Comedy/stunt artist George Gilbert creates both laughter and wow-worthy daredevilry. 

    Crazy Indy climbs into his Cyr wheel to perform outlandish acrobatic feats. 

    Magician Rafael Villa amazes crowds with sleight of hand. 

    Other jugglers, magicians, acrobats, face painters, dancers and aerialists will be on hand throughout the festival area. 

    Favorite costumed characters will be roving the village ready to pose for your photos, including pirate “Captain Jack,” the Transformers’ “Bumblebee,” IvyMichael JacksonKing, the “O-Fish-Al” Gecko Goddess, as well as “living statues,” more pirates, fairies, sparkly Mardi Gras revelers and giant geckos.

    Parking for GeckoFest is free. 

    Free shuttles also offer visitors an opportunity to park in off-site locations for transportation to and from their vehicle and the festival site.  For more information on GeckoFest, directions and parking go to www.GeckoFest.com.  Like the Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/GeckoFest.  GeckoFest offers a fun-filled opportunity to explore quirky Gulfport, a wonderful slice of “Old Florida,” on one of its most colorful days of the year.

    GeckoFest is preceded each year by the Gecko Art Show, Gecko Crawl and Gecko Ball. 

    All events are hosted by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association

    This year’s GeckoFest is sponsored by the following supporters: The City of Gulfport, Bright House Networks, Tampa Bay Times, Cox Media (The Eagle 107.3 & WDUV 105.5), GEICO, Beachlife, Paradise News, The Gabber, Jim’s Harley Davidson, Key West Express, Dole Dippers, YELP!, Tobacco Free Florida, The Island Reporter, Pet Supermarket and Smokin’ J’s BBQ.

    A portion of proceeds from all Gecko events benefits local charities each year. 

    This year’s charitable recipients include CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library, Daystar Life Center and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund.

  • 7th Annual Gecko Ball Celebrates Gulfport at its Quirkiest!

    August 12, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Daniel Hodge; (727) 366-4086; dan@igc.org

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Gulfport’s Seventh Annual Gecko Ball takes on a “Gecko Gras” theme this year, complete with all the festive hallmarks of a Mardi Gras celebration. 

    The annual Ball, widely recognized as quirky Gulfport’s “Party of the Year,” will take place on Saturday, August 29th at the waterfront Gulfport Casino.  Doors open at 6 p.m. and the party lasts until 11 p.m.

    Ball-goers are encouraged to come in costume for the evening. 

    Put together your best Mardi Gras finery.  Expect to see beads, bangles, feathers, sequins, masks, parasols, jesters, and of course geckos!  A costume parade will allow you to strut your Gecko Gras ensemble and a costume contest will help determine the best in the house.  Colorful Mardi Gras décor will transform the Casino Ballroom.  Lively music by the Jammin’ Jambalaya Band will fill the dance floor.  Cajun cuisine will be supplied by Ricky P’s Orleans Bistro.  A full cash bar will offer geckotinis and other libations.  Hundreds of silent auction items will be up for bids, including art work, restaurant and shop gift cards, gift baskets, travel and resort stays, sports and attraction tickets, gourmet foods and wine, pet provisions and more in one of the best silent auction venues of the year. 

    The annual live auction of “art-geckos” created by local artists is a highlight of the evening.  And the whimsical coronation of Gulfport’s next Gecko Queen is always true to the town’s fun, friendly and quirky reputation.

    Tickets for the event are $35 each and are available at the Gulfport Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd. South) with cash or check, or online here with credit/debit card. 

    The Ball sells out each year, so purchase tickets as soon as possible.

    One week following the Gecko Ball, the 15th Annual GeckoFest on Saturday, September 5th fills the waterfront village streets for a free, full day of merriment during Gulfport’s oldest and largest festival of the year. 

    All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association, and a portion of proceeds is donated to local charities. 

    For more information, contact Daniel Hodge at 727-366-4086 or dan@igc.org

  • Geckofest Parade Encourages Costumes

    August 13, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Suzanne King; suzfest@gmail.com

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA:  Gulfport’s beloved annual Geckofest would not be the same without its quirky, fun costume contests and this year promises to be exceptional! 

    With a 2015 theme of Mardi Gras, the “Gecko Gras” costumes will be colorful, festive and over the top.

    This year’s costume contest will be judged by all three of our own costumed Gecko Queens: 

    • The original 2013 “Gecko Night Fever” Queen, Faun Weaver;
    • Our 2014 “Roaring Geckos” Queen , Wesley Sloat;
    • Our incoming 2015 “Gecko Gras” Queen, Vivian Marcum Hawker!

    For the young contestants, there will be six categories: 

    • Boys – ages 0-5
    • Boys – ages 6-11
    • Boys – ages12 & up
    • Girls – ages 0-5
    • Girls – ages 6-11
    • Girls – ages 12 & up

    Our adult categories are as follows:

    • Best Second-Line Umbrella
    • Best Mardi Gras Theme
    • Best Gecko Theme.

    “Second-line umbrellas?” you may be asking. 

    Second lines, large or small, are held for any event which merits having a celebratory parade, and our annual GeckoFest Walking Parade is just that! Umbrellas and handkerchiefs have been carried by generations of New Orleans second-liners to combat the hot, muggy air and are now part of the traditional gear.  This year’s GeckoFest Walking Parade is following that tradition.

    Wave your white hankies in the air and strut with your own decorated parasols!  

    Join the brass band rolling from one end of Beach Boulevard to the other and back again, all culminating at the Gulfport Casino stage for the costume contests and Zydeco Street Dance!

    For more information, contact Suzanne King (suzfest@gmail.com) and visit GeckoFest.com.

    Here is a link to a blog with ideas for decorating your own second-line umbrella.  

    http://www.toomeys-mardigras.com/blog/how-to-make-your-own-second-line-umbrella.html

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