Annual kick-off of island's social season has new site, new beneficiary.
The Longboat Key Kiwanis Club Gourmet Lawn Party is back again as the traditional kick-off for the island's social season.
The party, which did not take place last year because of renovations going on at the Resort at Longboat Key Club’s Islandside driving range, will be held at a new location, the waterfront space behind the resort’s Harbourside ballroom, Dec. 7. A tent will cover the entire space, housing the 30-plus local restaurants catering the event.
“It’s not necessarily a lawn party, but it is on the water,” said Observer Media Group publisher Emily Walsh, who is co-chairing the event with Observer CEO Matt Walsh.
This year’s event will honor Dr. Murray “Murf” Klauber and the Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Emily Walsh said. Klauber died in November 2018, and Lawn Party organizers wanted to honor his contributions to not only the community in general but also his role in launching the predecessor of the Lawn Party.
The event started as a means to raise money for a bike path on the Key, then evolved into St. Jude’s Bike-a-thon. At one point, Klauber said he would ride a bike into the Gulf of Mexico if a fundraising goal for the children’s charity was met. It was, and he did.
It later became the St. Jude’s Luncheon and further evolved into an event designed to support Kiwanis college scholarships when people voiced a desire for the philanthropy to stay local.
Restaurants and chefs who were once involved with the Colony, including the Lazy Lobster’s Michael Garey and Michael’s On East, will be among those serving dishes at the Lawn Park.
They’re encouraged to make a “Murf or Colony-inspired dish.” Garey said he will be making Monkey Room ribs and Michael’s On East will be serving up Mighty Murf burgers.
In addition to an open bar, there will be a bloody mary bar for an additional cost.
More than just the venue has changed, though. Money raised at the Lawn Party will benefit All Star Children’s Foundation, a local group that helps children who have been abused or are in foster care, Kiwanis Club President Lynn Larson said.
“We’re honoring Dr. Klauber, but at the same time, this will bring in another layer,” she said. “It will bring in people that will donate because of what we’re doing.”
In the past, the decision of whom to support other than the scholarship fund has been made after the party, but this year, patrons will know where their money is headed from the start. Every dollar raised from the Lawn Party will go directly toward All Star Children’s Foundation.
“[Kiwanis members] wanted to concentrate on younger children, and that’s what [Kiwanis] is all about — helping children,” Larson said. “And so I personally thought, if you want to make a difference in children’s lives, the neediest of all are foster children or children in danger of going into foster care.”
The foundation, which is still young, is building its Campus of Hope and Healing, which will include six foster homes, a community clubhouse and a treatment center for children who have experienced abuse.
The foundation is already furnishing the homes and providing treatment at other locations, so the money from the event will have an impact right away. More than being excited for the Lawn Party itself, Larson said she wants people to get excited about the children it’s helping.
Event tickets are $75, and raffle tickets are $100. Both are on sale now and typically sell out.