Not even that could dampen the “Spirit of America” last weekend on Longboat Key.
The Fourth of July was an All-American day here.
And it started with a bang — the annual Freedom Fest parade and celebration, orchestrated by the Longboat Key, Lido Key and St. Armands Key Chamber of Commerce. Talk about a perfect slice of Americana — that was it.
As our photographs on page 1B show, the patriotic show of colors was in full splendor — even if the number of parade marchers was barely enough to make a crowd. They were indeed red, white and true blue — from the youngest to the oldest to four-legged furriest.
Hamburgers and hot dogs may have been missing, but the morning fare was no less All-American — a melting pot of Harry’s Continental Kitchens’ German pancakes, Ciao! Italia’s cannolis and Blue Dolphin’s waffles. German, Italian and Greek all mixed together — you can’t get more American than that.
And that was just the start.
If you ever want to see youth on Longboat Key, Freedom Fest brings them out. It looked as though children outnumbered adults (a historical first on Longboat Key for sure). And, boy, did they have fun — and games.
Their faces were priceless as they released 36 butterflies into the air (thank you, Longboat Key Garden Club), played hot-potato with water balloons or raced each other while balancing a raw egg on a spoon.
It was a blast.
The loudest blasts, of course, came after dark, when Murf Klauber’s Colony Beach & Tennis Resort lighted the southern Longboat skies, while on the northern end of the Key the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub, Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant and The Longboat Observer sponsored their first Fourth of July Fireworks Extravaganza. A great night it was. We’ve never seen so many cars parked along Gulf of Mexico Drive outside the Colony. Klauber said the Colony hosted 700 fireworks watchers, while Mar Vista and Moore’s estimated they hosted about 1,000 viewers for a splendid show.
As a nation, we may be down, we may be struggling, we may be hurting. But it was reassuring last weekend on Longboat Key to see the “Spirit of America” — family, fun, flag and fidelity — was as alive as it has always been.
SHOUT-OUTS GO TO …
Big thank-you’s go to all those involved in sponsoring, organizing and executing last weekend’s community events on Longboat Key. Special recognition:
• Freedom Fest lead sponsors — The Longboat Observer, Cannons Marina (David Miller), Casa del Mar Beach Resort (D.M. Williams), Longboat Key Kiwanis Club, town of Longboat Key;
• Freedom Fest sponsors — Blue Dolphin Cafe (Robbie Ball), Ciao! Italia (Carmine Astuto), Harry’s Continental Kitchens (Harry and Lynn Christensen), Encore Motors;
• Freedom Fest co-chairs — Lisa and Matt Walsh;
• Freedom Fest Flag patrons — Craig Robson, Superior Asphalt
Dr. Pamela Letts, Centre Shops Family Practice and Urgent Care
Florida Vacation Connection
John Gubernat Handyman Services
Longboat Key Club and Resort
Sea Club I, Vacation Rentals
Sea Horse Beach Resort
A Victorian Bride Hair and Makeup Design Team;
• Freedom Fest organizers and helpers — LLSA Chamber of Commerce, Dawn Mims, Bonnie Mims,Tyler Mims, Tom Aposporos, Marnie Matarese, Jim Seaton, Joe Landolfi, Andrew Vac, Dr. Pamela Letts, Fran Blum, Julian and Emily Parry, Dex and Kate Honea, Pam and Savannah McGee, Patti Colby, Longboat Key Garden Club;
• Town of Longboat Key — Police Chief Al Hogle; Fire Chief Richard Dickerson and engine crew; and Public Works Director Juan Florensa and his outstanding set-up, take down and cleanup crew;
• Mar Vista, Moore’s and The Longboat Observer for their first bayside fireworks extravaganza; Longbeach Village Association for volunteer parking assistance;
• The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort for its annual awesome beachfront barbecue and fireworks festival.