Flurry of activity at Gulfport's Jones Park

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After a $40 million restoration of Jones Park following Hurricane Katrina, the Gulfport park is very busy hosting a wide array of events.

Crews with the just concluded weekend yacht and boat show spent Monday morning packing up and moving out of Jones Park. The city of Gulfport will soon get to work preparing for Harbor Fest this coming weekend.

Jones Park is in a constant host mode serving as a location for concerts, festivals and an array of other events. After a $40 million post-Katrina restoration of the park, Gulfport leaders wanted to make sure this was the center of activity.

"The goal all along was to put the park in a position, being the front door to the Mississippi Coast, to have as many events and festivals as possible to get people down here," said David D'Aquilla with the Department of Leisure Services.

Besides hosting major events like the Mississippi Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo, Jones Park offers simple recreational opportunities.

There was some concern that an abundance of events would take a toll on the park, especially when thousands come in for the Gulfport Music Festival and Mother Nature provides some nasty weather. Gulfport planned for that when they choose a special grass for Jones Park.

"It is a hybrid Bermuda grass that is used on baseball, football and soccer fields around the South. It's designed to take the pounding we're putting on it," said D'Aquilla.

No city wants to lose money on hosting events. Gulfport has crunched the numbers and figured out that promoters absorb most of the costs and the city has benefited from the residual impact of having people in town spending money on other things.

"The events are covering their costs and helping the city by putting people in hotel rooms and economic impact things we need to do," D'Aquilla said.

City crews will begin moving fencing and making other preparation for this weekend's Harbor Fest.

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