Gulfport Cancels Geckofest
The GeckoBall and the Gecko Art Show are also cancelled. The GeckoCrawl has been postponed. The 2020 theme – Gecko Bandstand – has been rolled over to 2021 and the reigning Gecko Queen will hold the throne for another year.
GULFPORT – Organizers of Gulfport’s iconic GeckoFest have bowed to the COVID-19 pandemic and cancelled the upcoming Geckofest, GeckoBall and Gecko Art Show.
The news came Wednesday in an email from Barbara Banno, President, Gulfport Merchants Chamber of Commerce, and the entire board of directors of the Gulfport Merchants Chamber of Commerce, the festiva’s organizers. The email was also posted on the Visit Gulfport Floida Facebook page.
“I don’t know the best way to say this, so I’ll get it out right now:
“The Gulfport Merchants Chamber has canceled GeckoFest, GeckoBall, and the Gecko Art Show.
“This decision is not one the board of directors makes lightly, and it’s one we’d hope to avoid. However, in the light of rising COVID-19 cases in Florida, we cannot, in good faith, endanger our community and our businesses by proceeding with GeckoFest.
“We make this decision with a heavy heart, because we started GeckoFest 20 years ago to help businesses during a historically slow time, and we know right now our Gulfport businesses could really use the economic shot in the arm GeckoFest provides. We also understand that, for the COVID numbers to start to decrease, we need to do our part, and, as much as we don’t like it, our part is to not stage a large festival that could increase infection in our community. We work here, but we live here, too, and we want a healthy community and a healthy economy. We’re a business organization who puts the safety and well-being of the community first.
“When we, as a board, decided that GeckoFest was a “maybe” and that we should tentatively start planning it, it was early June and the number of COVID-19 cases weren’t as high as they are now. With the consistent increase in numbers, we believe it’s the best interest of our community, visitors, our members, and the long-term economy if we cancel Gecko Fest this year. We have worked with the city on this decision, and they support this 100%.
“Obviously, if we don’t think it’s safe to hold GeckoFest, an outdoor event, it’s not safe to have the indoor GeckoBall, Gulfport’s party of the year. With no GeckoBall, we can’t really have a Gecko Art Show, either, because the point of the Gecko Art Show was to reveal and showcase the art that would get live auctioned during the ball.
“The one Gecko event we have yet to cancel, GeckoCrawl, won’t take place in August. Rather, we’ve postponed it. Of all the Gecko events, this one takes the least amount of planning, so we feel confident that as the numbers decrease, we may find a way to safely adapt this event for later in the year, pending the COVID-19 status.
“Two things that won’t change? We’re rolling our theme — Gecko Bandstand — over to 2021 (so use this quarantine time to make the best costume ever!) and we’re asking our 2019-20 Gecko Queen, to hold the throne for another year. Jody Robinson has represented Gulfport beautifully as Gecko Queen, and we felt that since COVID-19 cut her reign short, she should have another year to participate in all her queenly duties.
“When we’re on the other side of this, Gulfport — and if we all stay strong, maintain social distancing, and embrace the county’s mask ordinance, we will see the other side sooner rather than later — we’ll throw a party not to be missed.
“We thank you for your understanding. Please reach out to us with any questions. If you’re a GMC member, please join our members-only Facebook forum for guidance, help, and member discussions.
“Yours in Gulfport.”
Gulfport | Geckofest | COVID-19 | Tampabay News | News Tampa
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