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Hancock Whitney Fundraiser for Mississippi Aquarium Returns Oct. 1 as ‘Sea of Stars’

GULFPORT, Miss. (June 22, 2021)—After a one-year pandemic imposed hiatus, Mississippi Aquarium’s annual fundraiser, which debuted in 2018 as Hancock Whitney Splash Bash, returns this fall with a fresh new look, feel, and name—“Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars.” Scheduled for Friday, October 1, 2021, from 5-9 p.m. at Gulfport’s waterfront Jones Park. The community celebration, which is free to the public, features food, music, and a stellar first-of-its-kind-on-the-Coast drone lights and fireworks show.

“Mississippi Aquarium and Hancock Whitney have entered into a multi-year agreement and committed to five years of a title sponsored event to continue to raise funds for the Aquarium. Our two organizations presented Hancock Whitney Splash Bash for Mississippi Aquarium in 2018 and 2019 before the aquarium opened to generate pre-opening funds and promote the Aquarium. Now, as we debut ‘Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars,’ our goal is to sustain the growth of what has become one of the region’s largest economic and tourism drivers,” said Mississippi Aquarium President and CEO Kurt Allen.

During the 10 months since opening, Mississippi Aquarium has welcomed more than 250,000 visitors—far exceeding anticipated admissions—exploring and learning about wildlife integral to the ecosystems of Mississippi’s waterways, wetlands, bayous, bays, and marshes.

“Mississippi Aquarium is a showpiece for Coastal Mississippi, our state, and our region,” said Hancock Whitney Mississippi President Emory Mayfield. “With its commitment to education, conservation, community, and research, Mississippi Aquarium provides an awe-inspiring experience as a major draw for visitors from around the nation and world. We are very proud to partner with the Aquarium to present ‘Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars’ to help this extraordinary facility continue to tell the incredible stories of Mississippi’s aquatic resources and the amazing wildlife that calls those habitats home.”

Food, Fun, & Lights Like Never Before

At Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars, 500 drones launched over Jones Park and choreographed to a soundtrack of classic and modern favorites will light up the night Gulf sky with three-dimensional displays, many reminiscent of Mississippi Aquarium resident animals such as alligators, dolphins, and turtles. The evening culminates with a brilliant fireworks show. The lights and fireworks show begins at 8 p.m. To view the Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars video, visit https://youtu.be/PN-xo90SgWI.

Attendees can purchase food from one of 20 food trucks lining Jones Park and presented by the Gulfport Chamber of Commerce and food provider partners. Food truck vendors will open at 5 p.m., with live music by Rhythm & Rain. To apply to be a food truck vendor, visit the event calendar at www.mscoastchamber.com/events/details/hancock-whitney-sea-of-stars-food-truck-registration-29114.

Admission to the Jones Park event is free, with families, groups, and individuals encouraged to bring blankets and lawn chairs to watch the show. Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars sponsors and Mississippi Aquarium patrons have the exclusive opportunity to watch the drone lights and fireworks show from premier viewing spots throughout the Mississippi Aquarium campus during a 6-9 p.m. sponsors and patrons party with upscale cocktails, coastal cuisine, animal encounters, and other experiences unique to the Aquarium.