GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - It has been called the front door to the City of Gulfport. Jones Park is a $35 million development, making it one of the largest post-Katrina public improvement projects. It has also become one of the most popular parks in South Mississippi.
The waterfront park features an iconic lighthouse, a popular pavilion, an amphitheater, an adjoining marina, a symbolic anchor, a walking track, green space and a splash pad. In other words, something for most every visitor.
"Me and my little boy was just riding around, just riding around and we said we're going to come to the park. So, I brought him to the park," said Georgia visitor, Zavious Bolton, as he held his eight-month-old son.
His boy likes the splash pad. And dad likes how they've upgraded this public park.
"It is nice. It's real nice. Last time I came down here, it wasn't like this. It looks nice," he said.
Charlotte and her grandma also enjoy what the new Jones Park offers.
"Beautiful. It's beautiful. I took her to the water first, the beach first, then she enjoyed looking at the boats. It's just gorgeous right here," said Sadako Lewis of Long Beach, as she watched her granddaughter play with other children.
WLOX News did a lot of stories, progress reports and updates, when Jones Park was under construction after Katrina. Back then there were quite a few naysayers, but these days whether it's exercise, entertainment or just good old fashioned relaxation, Jones Park has become quite the popular place.
"It's beautiful. You get the water and everything," said Bettye Jones of Saucier.
She's practicing for the upcoming "Race for the Cure" event and says Jones Park is ideal for exercise walking or running.
"Oh, the breeze. You have a laid out field and you know how far you're walking. And the breeze," she said, laughing.
Seems like every weekend Jones Park hosts a special event or festival. This week is no exception. City workers are setting the fences for CPR fest this Sunday. A new festival will be held for the first time in Jones Park next month. "Anchor Fest" is scheduled for September 26 and 27.
That event will feature a wooden boat show and highlight Gulfport's maritime history.