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

New look and feel to include first-of-its-kind light show, community celebration in Jones Park

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.

Sea of Stars

During the 10 months since opening, Mississippi Aquarium has welcomed more than 230,000 visitors—far exceeding anticipated admissions—exploring and learning about wildlife integral to the ecosystems of Mississippi’s waterways, wetlands, bayous, bays, marshes, and wetlands.

“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 www.youtube.com.

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/.

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 up scale cocktails, coastal cuisine, animal encounters, and other experiences unique to the Aquarium.

For more information on available sponsorships and tickets to the sponsors and patrons party, visit www.msaquarium.org/. Sponsor and patron party tickets are $150 per person; $250 per couple. Sponsor and patron party attendees must be 21 years of age or older.


Bright Kickoff to Big Weekend

Hancock Whitney Sea of Stars on October 1 kicks off “Gulfport Weekend”—a collaboration to bring three days of family-oriented festivities to downtown Gulfport.

On Saturday, October 2, the Gulfport Main Street Association’s “View the Cruise” begins in downtown Gulfport with live music by Rockin’ Dopsie Jr. & The Zydeco Twisters with opening act Amanda Shaw & The Cute Guys and rolls into Sunday, October 3, with a classic car “cruise,” art displays, music, children’s activities, and some of the city’s best local cuisine.

For more information about View the Cruise, visit www.downtowngulfport.org.



About Mississippi Aquarium

Mississippi Aquarium, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, is a premier institution delivering an awe-inspiring experience that supports animal research and conservation. Mississippi Aquarium is committed to animal welfare and the majesty of the gulf and beyond. The Aquarium sits on 5.8-acres and contains over 80,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor exhibits connected by landscaped walkways with plants that represent all the physiographic regions of Mississippi. For more visit msaquarium.org


About Hancock Whitney

Since the late 1800s, Hancock Whitney has embodied core values of Honor & Integrity, Strength & Stability, Commitment to Service, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility. Hancock Whitney offices and financial centers in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas offer comprehensive financial products and services, including traditional and online banking; commercial and small business banking; private banking; trust and investment services; healthcare banking; certain insurance services; and mortgage services. The company also operates a loan production office in Nashville, Tennessee. BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent bank rating and analysis firm, consistently recommends Hancock Whitney as one of America’s most financially sound banks. More information is available at www.hancockwhitney.com.


Media Contacts

Mississippi Aquarium

Jeff Clark, Public Relations & Communications




Hancock Whitney 

Elizabeth DiLorenzo, Regional Marketing Manager