Harrison County

It was a great year for holiday lights at Jones Park, official says

Gulfport Christmas lights at Jones Park

Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival had a trial run on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.
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Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival had a trial run on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015.

It’s beginning to look a lot less like Christmas across South Mississippi as trees and holiday decorations are coming down and Mardi Gras wreaths are starting to appear.

The Harbor Lights Winter Festival in Jones Park will not shine Sunday, as Gulfport officials canceled the last night of the show because of rain and thunderstorms.

But for an event that ran nightly for about six weeks, a little rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the festival’s organizers.

“We may have ended on a wet one, but we could have not asked for a better Gulfport Harbor Lights season,” said Gulfport spokesman Chris Vignes. “And we only had eight nights of weather closings.”

Vignes said more than 60,000 people attended the 2016 festival, which included Santa’s Christmas village, carnival rides and food vendors.

“We had people come from all over the state and from Louisiana and Alabama,” he said. “I personally talked to some people from upstate New York, Kentucky and Texas — plus we had a lot of snowbirds and people visiting family on the Coast that attended as well.”

The festival opened Friday, Nov. 24 — the day after Thanksgiving — and was supposed to end Jan. 1.

“We started setting up for the festival on Oct. 10 to get it ready for opening weekend,” Vignes said. “It will take about three weeks to completely remove it from Jones Park.”

Vignes said planning for the 2017 light show will soon begin.

“We will take a short break and start the discussions on this year’s show,” he said.