Press Releases

Most recent GeckoFest Press Releases:

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

    August 12, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Daniel Hodge; (727) 366-4086;

    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

  • Geckofest Parade Encourages Costumes

    August 13, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Suzanne King;

    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 ( and visit

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

  • Gulfport “Gecko Artists” To Display Their Work

    For Release: July 6, 2015
    Contact: Jessica Sager (727-608-0070)

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Nine local artists chosen this year to create geckos for an annual charity auction will have selections of their other work on display from August 7th until August 31st, kicking off “Gecko Season” in Gulfport. 

    An opening reception for the artists will be held on Friday, August 7th from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Avenue South in Gulfport.  Light refreshments and a cash bar will be offered.  The reception is free and open to the public.

    The nine artists were chosen from among those that expressed an interest in creating a larger than life gecko to be auctioned at the annual Gecko Ball. 

    For the exhibit, the artists will offer selections from their primary bodies of work.  Photographs of each of the geckos created by the artists will also be on display. 

    The actual geckos will be on display in various locations throughout the Gulfport Waterfront District in the weeks leading up to the Gecko Ball. 

    This year’s “Gecko Artists” are Janet Folsom, Denise Keegan, Lenne Nicklaus-Ball, Owen Pach, Tom Pitzen, John Ricci, Jonathan Schork, Frank Strunk III and Matt Worsham.  The various artists work in a variety of media including painting, mixed media, steel, glass, wood, fabric, stone and others, but are given liberty to create and embellish their geckos out of any materials they choose.  This is the seventh year in which artists have created geckos for auction at the Gecko Ball.

    This first-ever “Gecko Artists’ Show” will be the first of four events in Gulfport’s growing roster of gecko-themed events, celebrating the City’s unofficial favorite reptile at the end of summer each year. 

    Other “Gecko Season” events include the 8th Annual Gecko Crawl and Poker Run on August 8th; “Gecko Gras,” the 7th Annual Gecko Ball on August 29th; and the 15th Annual GeckoFest street festival on September 5th.  The Crawl and Ball are ticketed events for adults only.  GeckoFest is a free day-long event offering attractions for all ages.

    All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association. 

    A portion of proceeds from events is donated to local charities each year.  This year’s beneficiaries are CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library, Daystar Life Center and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund.

    For more information on the “Gecko Artists’ Show,” contact Jessica Sager at (727) 608-0070.  

  • Gecko Crawl Celebrates “Gecko Season” in Gulfport

    June 11, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Biff Lagan; (305) 923-1803 or    

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: The eighth annual Gecko Crawl will help usher in “Gecko Season” in Gulfport with a poker run, an opportunity to sample drinks at six locations and a festive street party in Gulfport’s colorful Waterfront District. 

    The Crawl will be held Saturday, August 8th from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., with afterparty beginning at 9 p.m.  Tickets are now on sale.

    Gecko Crawlers will be able to enjoy a beverage at these participating bars and restaurants:

    • Little Tommie’s Tiki
    • Mangia Gourmet
    • Neptune Grille
    • O’Maddy’s
    • Peninsula Inn
    • Salty’s

    All are located within easy walking distance along Beach and Shore Boulevards. 

    Crawlers may start at any participating location and continue their Crawl in any order.

    A Poker Run game of Five Card Stud will add to the evening’s festivities. 

    Crawlers will be dealt a free card at each location when they pick up their drink token.  One additional card may be purchased for $5 at O’Maddy’s when checking in at the end of the Run.

    There will be three Poker Run winners:

    • Best Poker Hand
    • Worst Poker Hand
    • A Grand Prize winner chosen at random from all participants regardless of their poker hand. 

    Prizes include a two-night stay at Hotel Zamora on St. Pete Beach, a two-night stay at Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach, and a sunset cruise for two aboard the Boat Butler.

    A high-energy afterparty will be held at O’Maddy’s beginning at 9 p.m. 

    Poker Run participants must check in their hands with Crawl ambassadors at the party by 9:30, and winners will be announced at 10 p.m. 

    Participants for Poker Run prizes must be present to win. 

    The party will spill out onto one block of 54th Avenue, which will be closed for the event, with on-stage live music and dancing. 

    A portion of afterparty proceeds will be donated to Gulfport’s Michael J. Yakes Foundation.

    Tickets are available in advance for $20 each at Gulfport Beach Bazaar, 3115 Beach Blvd. in Gulfport. 

    Tickets are limited and purchase of advance tickets is encouraged.   If tickets remain available on the day of the Crawl, they will be sold for $25 each at all participating locations during the Crawl until sold out!

    For more information, contact Biff Lagan at (305) 923-1803 or 

    A Gecko Art Show on August 7th, the Gecko Ball on August 29th and the GeckoFest street festival on September 5th round out the growing slate of late summer Gecko fun, celebrating Gulfport’s favorite reptile!   A portion of proceeds from all Gecko events are donated each year to local charities.  All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association.

  • Nine Local Artists Create Geckos for Charity Auction

    June 11, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact:  Michael Gauthier; (207) 312-4317;

    GULFPORT, FL: Nine larger-than-life geckos will be the centerpiece of a live auction to benefit local charities. 

    Each of the large geckos, measuring approximately three feet long, will be created and decorated in a variety of media by local artists.  The geckos are now being constructed by the artists and all will be on display in locations throughout the Gulfport Waterfront District as of July 4th.  The art pieces will be auctioned during the seventh annual Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 29th.  Each gecko will be a prized collector’s art work and join the ranks of nearly 50 other geckos that have been created since the event’s inception.  Organizers initiated the Artists’ Gecko Auction six years ago with much success and the auction is now a popular part of the tradition of annual Gulfport Gecko-related activities in late summer.

    Artists selected to create geckos for this year’s auction are Janet Folsom, Denise Keegan, Lenne’ Nicklaus-Ball, Owen Pach, Tom Pitzen, John Ricci, Jonathan Schork, Frank Strunk III, and Matt Worsham.

    The nine finished geckos will be on display at these nine Gulfport locations in the weeks leading up to the Gecko Ball:  Domain Home Accessories & Gallery, Gulfport Beach Bazaar, Little Tommie’s Tiki, Mangia Gourmet, Philanthropee, Pia’s Trattoria, T and Me Tea Co., Tangelo’s Grille, and Yummy’s.  Advance bids will also be accepted for geckos at these preview locations.  An art show featuring a variety of work by the nine gecko artists will be on display at Gulfport’s Catherine Hickman Theater, with an opening reception scheduled for Friday, August 7th at 6 p.m.

    The annual Gecko Ball has become known as Gulfport’s Party of the Year! 

    This year’s theme is “Gecko Gras!” evoking the color and pageantry of Mardi Gras, its costumes, music, food and fun.  In addition to the live auction of the artist’s geckos, the event includes dozens of silent auction items, costumes and costume contests, tapas catered by Ricky P’s Orleans Bistro, cash bar, live music by the Jammin’ Jambalaya Band, dancing and more.  The Gecko Ball will be held at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom.  Tickets are $35 each and are available in advance beginning July 4th at Gulfport Beach Bazaar (3115 Beach Blvd.) or online with a credit or debit card at  A portion of proceeds from Gecko Ball, as well as Gulfport’s Gecko Pub Crawl (August 8th) and GeckoFest (September 5th) will benefit CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse), the Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library, Daystar Life Center, and the Sonia Plotnick Health Fund.

    Artists from Gulfport or with ties to Gulfport have volunteered their time and talent to create a gecko. 

    Gulfport artist Janet Folsom is a passionate and experienced painter, feeling compelled to capture the spirit of her subjects.  She recently was awarded Best in Show at the AllFlorida Show at Morean Arts Center. 

    Denise Keegan worked in painting before relocating to Gulfport a few years ago.  Inspired her new home town’s eccentricity, she has broadened her focus to include mixed media art that incorporates found and recycled objects.  Her art aptly named “Tossed and Found” pieces can be seen throughout Gulfport in private homes and businesses. 

    Lenne’ Nicklaus-Ball has displayed her mixed media art work in public and private galleries throughout the Eastern U.S., as well as having been involved in over nine museum exhibits and several public art projects.  Her work has also been purchased by private collectors in the U.S., Europe and South America. 

    Owen Pach was an established woodworking artist at the age of 30 in Ybor City when he discovered his passion for glass art.  His work is included in numerous private and public art collections, and he has inspired many of his students over the years to pursue their own glass passions.  He originated the gecko art auction event in 2010. 

    Tom Pitzen was educated in art and design and went on to open a custom wood shop in Ohio, offering custom cabinetry, furniture and displays.  Many of his pieces for the Wexner Center for the Arts in Columbus, Ohio travelled with exhibits throughout North America.  He and his family now live and work in Gulfport.  His first large-scale public art installation was created in 2009 and stands in front of the Gulfport Neighborhood Center.  His art studio is located in Gulfport’s Alley of the Arts. 

    John Ricci identified as an artist at an early age while in grade school, though he was only able to create art work intermittently during his adult working years.  Retirement has allowed him to concentrate on his art, including jewelry design and sculpture.  He is also an actor and member of SAG/AFTRA. 

    Jonathan Schork creates work within a wide range of creative processes including painting, photography, sculpture, couture, writing, literature, film and theatre.  He is an award-winning creator of public sculptures.  Light and sound are often incorporated into pieces that may otherwise have been “static.”  He calls himself an “alchemist” in his sculptural work, “turning something into something else.” 

    Gulfport artist Frank Strunk III grew up around his father’s print shop, sparking his interest in machinery and its function.  The experiences proved to be a springboard into his art work which often incorporates machine parts or machine-themed concepts. 

    GypsyCat Creations is the working name of the Gulfport art studio of Matt Worsham.  He creates textile-based mixed media folk-art inspired sculptures depicting whimsical animals, mythological or fantasy-based creatures and more.  His work is offered in local galleries and shops.  He also performs as a musician with his band D20 and as a solo artist.  He is a longstanding professional in his career of teaching art and music to adults with developmental disabilities.

    All Gecko events are sponsored by the non-profit Gulfport Merchants Association.
      For more information go to or, or contact Michael Gauthier: (207) 312-4317 or

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