Long Live the Gecko Queen!

Ruskin crowns a tomato queen. In Plant City, young girls dream of becoming the Strawberry Queen. Up in Monticello, just outside Tallahassee, the town names a Watermelon Queen.

In Gulfport, royalty has a more reptilian feel. All hail the 2014 Gecko Queen.

At the August 23 Gecko Ball, the 2013 Gecko Queen, Faun Weaver, surrendered her crown to the new Queen, Welsey Sloat. Sloat's reign will be the second "dynasty" for the city, who first crowned a Gecko Queen in 2013. 

Mayor Sam Henderson, dressed as Ernest Hemingway in keeping with the Roaring Geckos 1920s theme, bestowed the crown on Sloat, dressed as Theda-Bara-meets-Lady-Gaga. Weaver, still wearing her costume from last year's Gecko Ball (themed for the 1970s disco era), submitted to the new queen.

Missed the ball? Meet the Queen and her consort this Saturday, August 30, in the Gecko parade, part of Gulfport's annual GeckoFest.

GeckoFest runs from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and features hand- and locally crafted items, acrobats, live shows and beer and wine. Expect to see Gulfportians dressed in costume; attendees, organizers say, should feel free to do the same.

Live bands include Double M Band, Ries Brothers, Phillip Cole, the Fabulous Deltonas, Francesca, Joel and Dakota, the Paul Anthony Band, Jay Pritchard, the Rose Island Band, Sol Sessions, 3 Pint Harmony and the Trop Rock Junkies. 

About The Author

Cathy Salustri

Cathy's portfolio includes pieces for Visit Florida, USA Today and regional and local press. In 2016, UPF published Backroads of Paradise, her travel narrative about retracing the WPA-era Florida driving tours that was featured in The New York Times. Cathy speaks about Florida history for the Osher Lifelong Learning...
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