Pandemic forces Pinellas beach cities to cancel Labor Day weekend festivities

Gulfport will not be holding its 20th annual GeckoFest event this weekend. The Gulfport Merchants Chamber canceled the street festival that features live music and entertainment in July when it became obvious that the pandemic would not allow it to proceed.

Labor Day weekend is typically a fun and busy one around Pinellas County beaches, including fireworks shows and Gulfport’s GeckoFest.

The COVID-19 pandemic and limitations on mass gatherings have once again put a damper on that.

In June, Treasure Island commissioners canceled the city’s July 4 fireworks show and put the money toward displays on Labor Day on Sept. 7, New Year’s Eve and during its annual Sanding Ovations event Nov. 18-22.

Mayor Larry Lunn told members or the Barrier Islands Governmental Council on Aug. 26 that the Labor Day show has been called off.

“Upon further consideration, because of other cities around us canceling their fireworks display, we decided yesterday we would cancel our event and defer to our Sanding Ovations in November and also New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Gulfport also will not be holding its 20th annual GeckoFest event this weekend.

The Gulfport Merchants Chamber canceled the street festival that features live music and entertainment in July when it became obvious that the pandemic would not allow it to proceed.

“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,” wrote Barbara Banno, president of the Chamber, in a statement.

The accompanying GeckoBall and Gecko Art Show were also nixed. The 2020 theme, Gecko Bandstand, will carry over to 2021, Banno said.

“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,” she said.