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Longboat Key Tuesday, Jun. 25, 2019 2 months ago

Freedom Fest returns to Longboat for its 17th year

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The parade begins at 9 a.m.July 4 on Bay Isles Road.
by: Sten Spinella Staff Writer

Longboat Key is set to hold the world’s shortest (probably) 4th of July parade.

Hosted by the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce, the event will last from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Bay Isles Road with a celebration afterward at Bicentennial Park.

Special guest Uncle Sam will be in attendance. And Gail Loefgren, President of the Chamber of Commerce, said there will be a stilt walker towering over participants this year.

“I try to add a new thing every year,” Loefgren said. “We’re bringing back the photo booth so people can have their pictures taken, because that was really popular last year.”

The festivities will include decorated floats, Belgian waffles from Blue Dolphin Café, kids’ games, an opportunity for kids to tour Longboat Key's largest fire truck, 16 Hands Horse Sanctuary horses, face painting and a butterfly release with butterflies from the Longboat Key Garden Cub.

Maybe the most important aspect of the day, though, is the “Hot Diggety Dog” contest, in which dogs (and humans) will square off in a costume competition for “Most Patriotic,” “Most Creative” and “Best Dressed Owner and Dog Combination.”

“Oh my gosh, it’s adorable,” Loefgren said. “It’s all about the kids and the dogs!”

Perhaps the only thing the parade won’t have is a grand marshal. Loefgren said she doesn’t think there will be one this year and that, in the parade’s 17th year, there’s only been a grand marshal three or four times.

“It’s usually someone who comes to mind immediately, usually a pioneer, somebody who’s been here a long time and has contributed a lot, started organizations, all kinds of things, and there are fewer and fewer of those people very year, you know?” Loefgren said. “Hopefully next year there’ll be one.”

Participants should assemble near SunTrust Bank at 8:30 a.m. before the parade.

Sten Spinella is a Town Hall Reporter for the Longboat Observer. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and his master's degree from the University of Missouri. 

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