GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Wednesday was a busy day for crews out putting the finishing touches on the 3rd Annual Gulfport Harbor Winter Lights Festival at Jones Park. The event has brought in thousands since it began three years ago. Organizers promise even more enchantment with a few additions to the big event.
Full preparations are underway for the 3rd Annual Gulfport Harbor Lights Winter Festival. Organizers said the prep work has been going on for a few months now and is a team effort.
"We were lucky this year in a lot of ways. We had a movie shot that focuses on Gulfport, "Christmas in Mississippi" that premieres December 9 on the Network and we had a lot of early setup. We actually thought this year we'd probably be early. What happened was Nate came in and disrupted those plans as hurricanes often do and so our crews have been working nonstop," Walker explained.
Councilman Rusty Walker said the Gulfport fire and police departments, vendors and contractors, harbor services as well as Gulfport's Department of Leisure Services all play a role in making the holiday event a reality.
"It's just the rides and stuff and the enjoyment seeing everybody happy and stuff like that," said one girl already getting a look at the lights.
"All the lights are pretty," said another girl.
This year's show will include new additions, Santa will be here every night until Christmas, there will be over 18 live acts performing, and more Christmas displays will go up at Santa's Village. Thousands of people both local and regionally come to enjoy the sights.
"It's grown basically about 40 the first year, about 60 the second year and we're looking to maybe grow about 65 to 70 this year. We'll just have to see it's largely dependent on the weather," said Walker.
Councilman Walker said this huge light show requires constant attention. Some of that attention happens in the light shack, which houses the computer that controls the dancing lights.
"It's a huge network and it requires constant attention. And every night we're changing lights. We're changing controllers. We're resetting things. So it has to be attended. It's constantly attended," said Walker.
The festival starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at Jones Park in Gulfport. It event runs every night, except Christmas Eve and Christmas. It ends December 31. Tickets are $10 a person and that includes pictures with Santa.