Harbor Lights Winter Festival attendance numbers up significantly

Harbor Lights Winter Festival attendance numbers up significantly

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Christmas may be over, but the holiday activities continue. The Harbor Lights Winter Festival continued Monday in Gulfport and the warmer than usual temperatures didn't stop people from getting in the holiday spirit.

"It is remarkable, it's just breathtaking," said Columbia resident Dot Morgin. "You see it and you don't know what to do, it's just beautiful."

Morgin was one of many taking in the lights on Monday night. Most of the visitors were wearing short sleeves, some even wearing shorts. We didn't find anybody complaining about the winter wonderland without the feel of winter.

"I enjoy this weather," said Wiggins resident Greg Weitzel. "I do outside work and it just makes it easy on me."

This is the second year for Jones Park to be turned into a trail of lights and the attendance numbers are way up. Gulfport Councilman Ricky Dombrowski said more than 52,000 have passed through the gates since they opened the last weekend of November - a 20 percent increase from the inaugural event.

"That's 9,000 more than what we did last year and that's fantastic," said Dombrowski. "We look forward to making that an even bigger number next year."

The planning for next year is already underway. Dombrowski said the display will expand and feature more lights over more space in 2017.

"We're going to continue doing additions because we get a substantial amount of money from Island View Casino to continue to do this. So you're going to look and see more things that are going to happen inside the Harbor and just expand what we have already," said Dombrowski.

That's good news for Dot Morgin, who plans to make a trip to Jones Park an annual tradition.

"I'm going to keep coming back every year if I can," said Morgin.

The Harbor Lights Winter Festival continues at Jones Park through New Year's night.

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