Harrison County

The big reveal about to happen at Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival

ANITA LEE/SUN HERALD 
 George Manneman, head of Gulfport's harbor, and staff member Billy Lehman are getting ready for the city's inaugural Harbor Lights Winter Festival, running Friday through Jan. 3.
ANITA LEE/SUN HERALD George Manneman, head of Gulfport's harbor, and staff member Billy Lehman are getting ready for the city's inaugural Harbor Lights Winter Festival, running Friday through Jan. 3.

GULFPORT -- South Mississippi's biggest holiday light show kicks off in a couple of hours.

The owner of the company that creates the computerized light and sound magic, Greg Fulwood of Universal Concepts, was in Jones Park on Friday conducting final light tests. Councilman Rusty Walker, who has in years past put up a crowd-drawing light show on his own lawn, has been at the harbor days, nights and weekends to make sure everything goes smoothly.

The computerized lights will dance to holiday music.

The city is hoping the inaugural Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival will draw big crowds and, in years to come, help extend the tourist season into the normally slow winter months. Sponsor Island View Casino Resort agreed to spend $2.5 million on the show over five years.

Universal Concepts has created and installed light shows for Winterfest in the Smoky Mountains, Magical Nights of Lights at Lake Lanier Islands in Georgia and Six Flags resorts. Fulwood's company has been in business since 1980.

Fulwood brought in some of his own crew but also hired local workers to get light displays installed. The displays include a grove of Christmas trees, Neptune guiding a sleigh and a shark that pops up across the lawn. Lighted arches are installed throughout the harbor, and every building there will be lit up, too.

The city plans to flip on the lights at 5 p.m., and the show will run nightly through Jan. 3.

Admission is $5 each, or $20 a car, $40 for vans and $100 for buses. Visitors can walk through the show, or ride on a Coast Transit Authority trolley.

Other details, provided by the city of Gulfport:

n Parking available at the CTA Parking Garage on 21st Avenue, with shuttle rides to Jones Park.

n Snack stops, including hot chocolate, are set up.

n Holiday weekends will feature Santa and Mrs. Claus; cookie decorating and face painting at Santa's Craft Workshop; local bands and choirs; Elfie Selfie Stations; and, with the purchase of additional tickets, train, carousel and carriage rides.

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