GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After months of construction, Fishbone Alley in downtown Gulfport is close to being ready for its grand opening party. Artists, like Gulfport resident Ryan Merrill, have filled the space with artwork ahead of Cruisin' the Coast. Merrill said he's using a high quality outdoor paint as he puts finishing touches on his mural.
"We kicked around a few ideas and we came up with this octopus, which I drew in Photoshop, painting each panel to help me move along and progress each day," Merrill noted.
He said he feels fortunate to be a part of the project, which developers like David Parker hope will boost the restaurant and tourism industry in the area.
"We've been working really hard to make art as diverse as possible. Someone asked, 'When's it finished?' Truthfully, it will never be done. It's always going to be evolving," Parker said.
Seven bars and restaurants touch the alley, but there are 41 in the downtown are, within walking distance.
"We are making a cool pedestrian walkway and central hub for people to come to," Parker said.
Mahan Rykiel, an architecture firm from Baltimore, was hired to specially design the space.
"Their niche is alley ways, one of the best alley designers in the country. So we deliberately planned this. They've done projects in Seattle, New York, and Dallas," Parker noted.
"I'm just thankful to be a part of Fishbone Alley and I've really enjoyed coming out here and painting, giving back to community I grew up in," Merrill said.
The alley's developers want everyone to feel that the space belongs to them, so they asked a wide variety of people - firemen, city employees, and children - to create artwork for the space.
A huge crowd is expected at the grand opening party for Fishbone Alley Sunday, October 2 at 1:00 p.m.