Press Releases

Most recent GeckoFest Press Releases:

  • 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

  • In Search Of The 2015 Gecko Queen!

    May 18, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Faun Weaver; (727) 424-2219;

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Who wants to represent all that is Gecko Gulfport Fabulous and be the next Gecko Queen? 

    Gulfport’s third Gecko Queen will be crowned at this year’s Gecko Ball on Saturday, August 29th.  This is a gender-neutral opportunity for adults of any age, 21 and over; what’s important is that you can represent Gulfport with flair! The Queen’s costuming should reflect this year’s Mardi Gras theme, so candidates should consider if this is a theme with which they can work.  The Gecko Queen represents Gulfport throughout the year at events including GeckoFest and Gecko Crawl, St. Pete Pride Parade, Gulfport July 4th Parade and more.

    The Queen will be chosen from among interested candidates by members of the Gecko Ball Committee. 

    The deadline to express your interest is July 1st.  If interested please contact Faun Weaver, Gecko Queen Emeritus, at with a statement as to why you want to be the next Gecko Queen and include any photos or video that represent you and your Gulfportian attitude!

  • Call to Artists Announced for Creation of Geckos

    March 17, 2015:  For Immediate Release
    Contact: Daniel Hodge; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; (727) 366-4086

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA:  The committee producing Gulfport’s 7th Annual Gecko Ball has announced a call to artists for the creation of larger-than-life geckos to be auctioned during the event on August 29th. 

    The live auction of artist-created geckos has become a much-anticipated Gecko Ball tradition.  Seven artists will be chosen to create geckos for the Ball this year.

    Read More

  • Gulfport’s ‘Party of the Year’ Takes on Mardi Gras Theme

    March 10, 2015: For Immediate Release
    Contact: Daniel Hodge;; (727) 366-4086

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: The Seventh Annual Gecko Ball will be celebrated with a “Gecko Gras” theme for 2015. 

    Plan now to attend this late summer event that is known to be the party of the year in Gulfport on Saturday, August 29th.  

    Mardi Gras will be the order of the evening, including its festivities and pageantry, high energy dancing, New Orleans-style music, food and more. 

    Expect to experience over-the-top revelry and costumes, including outrageous headdresses, glitter, a rainbow of make-up, wigs, feathers, masks, beads and baubles, kings and queens, clowns, jesters, geckos and a host of other fantasy-inspired creatures.  The Gulfport Casino Ballroom will be transformed with a kaleidoscope of colorful décor.  Ball-goers are encouraged to develop costumes relating to Mardi Gras, or geckos, or a creative combination of the two!  A costume contest during the evening will help decide some of the best outfits in the house.  Each year, the Gecko Ball theme also lends itself to costumes that participants of the Gecko Fest free street festival will flaunt during the festival’s own walking parade and costume contest.

    The Gecko Ball also includes hors d’oeuvre and tapas, cocktail specials and a cash bar.  Live music by the Jammin’ Jambalaya Band will fill the dance floor. 

    Hundreds of silent auction items will be up for bids, and a live auction of artist-created geckos will once again be a highlight of the evening.  Tickets to Gecko Ball go on sale a few weeks prior to the event.  The Ball is known to sell out every year.  To receive updates on Gecko Ball, including ticket sales announcements, visit and “like” the Facebook page for Gecko Ball at  

    The Gecko Ball is one of a trio of Gulfport’s end of summer Gecko-centric events. 

    Watch for more details about the Gecko Pub Crawl (Saturday, August 8th) and the Gecko Fest street festival (Saturday, September 5th). 

    For more information, please contact Daniel Hodge at (727) 366-4086 or email

  • GeckoFest Offers a Day of Entertainment on Stages and Streets

    August 12, 2014: For Immediate Release

    Contact: Daniel Hodge; (727) 366-4086;

    GULFPORT, FLORIDA: Gulfport’s 14th Annual Geckofest will bring entertainment to streets and stages during a daylong spectacle on Saturday, August 30th.

    Amid the thousands of festival-goers, hundreds of vendors and dozens of live musicians on two stages, expect to come face to face with acrobats, aerialists, break dancers, escape artists, magicians, jugglers, fire performers and more, creating an interactive circus atmosphere throughout the waterfront village. All festivities take place on Beach Boulevard in Gulfport from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. GeckoFest is free and family-friendly.

    Each year, Gulfport celebrates the end of summer with its largest festival of the year, dedicated to the town’s unofficial mascot and favorite reptile.

    GeckoFest has grown to become one of Tampa Bay’s most anticipated events of the year. Live music, a kid’s activities area, and vendors throughout the village are all part of the fun. Strolling and stationary street performers are now also a hallmark of the GeckoFest tradition.

    This year’s street performers bring more fun and thrills to the streets than ever before, allowing visitors get close to the action.

    Many of the performances include interaction and audience participation with festival-goers of all ages.

    The Acromaniacs return with balancing, flipping and comedy shenanigans. Dallas and Nick are reprising their amazing feats of juggling and escape from bondage.

    New to GeckoFest, Sara Schmoo performs a variety of circus acts including fire eating, contortions and stilt dancing.

    Will Soto performs high wire stunts that are both thrilling and comical.

    A full slate of other circus and magic performers, costumed characters (including pirates and superheroes), balloon artists, living statues, dancers and more will be spread throughout the village, offering free entertainment for the whole family throughout the day.

    An amazing fire show by the Bohemian Fire troupe will cap off GeckoFest again this year, including fire dancing, fire juggling and fire on the high-wire lighting up the night, set to music from the 1920s through today.

    Live music on two stages will entertain the GeckoFest throngs again this year.

    Headliners include popular local favorites the Ries Brothers on the South Stage and Double M Band on the North Stage.

    Both headliners are well-known Florida favorites playing high-energy danceable pop music covers and originals.

    The famous GeckoFest street dance will close out a day of live music with a party in the streets.

    Other bands and musicians during the day and evening include Phillip Cole, the Fabulous Deltonas, Francesca, Joel and Dakota, the Paul Anthony Band, Jay Pritchard, the Rose Island Band, Sol Sessions, 3 Pint Harmony and the Trop Rock Junkies.

    A free kid’s zone will be dedicated to GeckoFest games and creative activities for children in Gulfport’s Art Village Courtyard from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m.

    Join the O-Fish-Al Gecko Goddess and other weird and fanciful creatures in a special Gecko Garden created just for the day’s events.

    Games will include the Great Gecko-Toes Freeze, the Musical Gecko Sprinkler, a Goofy Gecko Hole Toss, the Great Big Gecko Rock Eater, and Pool Noodle Geckos.

    Other free kid’s activities include Make Your Own Decko Gecko Hats, storytelling, face painting and a group drum circle.

    All craft materials are supplied.

    The kid’s area is sponsored by FAB Fiber, First Florida Frontiers and the Industrial Arts Center of Gulfport.

    Over 200 vendors will line the streets of Gulfport’s waterfront village during the festival.

    This year, non-food and non-sponsor vendors have been limited to only independent artists and businesses offering hand-made or locally produced items. Purchases from these vendors will support only independent small and locally-owned businesses. Gulfport’s own independent shops and galleries also offer great one-of-kind treasures. A variety of street food vendors will also complement choices from over a dozen of Gulfport’s own great, independent restaurants. Two beer and wine vending areas will also be on hand for festival-goers.

    Colorful costumes are encouraged for all! Visitors may wish to don a gecko costume, or come as any other character they may imagine.

    The theme for this year’s Gecko events is “Roaring Geckos,” evoking the 1920’s, so costumes may incorporate the theme as well.

    Show off your costume or just your Gecko spirit by joining the traditional afternoon GeckoFest Walking Parade, led by Gulfport’s Mayor, and including the O-Fish-Al Gecko Goddess and the Gecko Queen and her Court.

    A costume contest following the parade will offer an opportunity to win prizes for some of the day’s best ensembles for adults and for kids.

    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.

    Click here for more information on GeckoFest directions and parking.

    Like the Facebook page at

    GeckoFest offers a fun-filled opportunity to explore 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 Pub 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
    • tbt*
    • The Gabber
    • Cox Media (The Eagle 107.3 & WDUV 105.5)
    • GEICO
    • Yelp
    • WMNF
    • Radio Disney
    • Nestle/Zephyrhills
    • Resort Property Promotions,
    • Beachlife
    • Paradise News
    • The Lazy Pirate
    • Bath Planet of Tampa Bay
    • Smokin’ J’s BBQ
    • A & B Insurance
    • Lizard Juice
    • Metro PCS and Bluegreen Vacations.

    A portion of proceeds from all three Gecko events will once again benefit local non-profit groups as well as the commission of a public art installation in the Gulfport Waterfront District.

    This year’s charitable recipients will include the Gulfport Historical Society, the Gulfport Neighbors, the Community Law Program, and Gulf Coast Giving.

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