Gulfport, Florida: A User’s Guide

Today, an old friend asked a question on her Facebook page about feeding ducks bread and I answered, mentioning that my Hard Candy this week dealt with some local duck intrigue. She responded, as would many folks unfamiliar with Gulfport, Florida: “Duck intrigue?”

To understand why that’s just de rigeur for us Gulfportians, you really have to experience Gulfport. For those who have, here’s how I boiled it down for her:

At the southern tip of Pinellas lies a tiny bayside town called “Gulfport” and it is wholly and completely unlike the rest of Pinellas. Yes, we have duck intrigue. In 1945 we had a voter referendum about chickens, and a few years ago council spent several months debating chickens yet again. We also have an annual GeckoFest (the formal title of which is “Gecko Festival and Mullet Mutiny), and our town’s annual birthday includes a mullet toss. This year we may crown a mullet king and queen.

We also have our own hot shop for glass blowing, the first human rights ordinance in the county (2005, and it protects people from being denied services based on their sexuality, among other things), the first domestic partnership registry in the county, and John Prine, although he keeps to himself. We also have no small assortment of pissed off mullet fishermen (two words: net ban), descendants of “blockade runners” and “war profiteers”, and the only mayor in the state who sings in a band called “Hot Tub Club.” On election night, the cops came by his house to say “First of all, on behalf of the Gulfport Police Department, congratulations. Second, we, um, are going to need to ask you to keep it down.”

Published by


I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.