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Freedom Fest to bring back crowd favorites

The 16th annual event steps off at 9 a.m. with a parade on Bay Isles Road.

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  • | 8:20 a.m. June 20, 2018
Grand Marshal David Miller and  former Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Doll wave to the crowd at last year's parade
Grand Marshal David Miller and former Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce Chairman Mike Doll wave to the crowd at last year's parade
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No Fourth of July celebration would be complete without Longboat Key’s Freedom Fest.

It could be the world’s shortest parade route at about a quarter-mile from start to finish, but it’s a steadfast island tradition, and it’s coming back for the 16th year.

On July 4, the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce will once again host the annual celebration.

This year’s Freedom Fest will kick off with the parade at 9 a.m. on Bay Isles Road followed by a celebration in Bicentennial Park that will go until 11 a.m.

Any nonprofit organization or business that decorates a float or vehicle and participates in the parade will be entered into a contest for a $500 cash prize offered by Cannons Marina Owner David Miller, so long as there are 10 participants. Last year, Longboat Island Chapel was the winner.

Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren is finalizing some details, such as who will be the parade grand marshal. Whomever it is will join the ranks of local leaders such as the late Virginia Sanders, former Vice Mayor David Brenner and Miller.

“I struggle with this every year because some of our pioneers are passing away and nobody does what those people did for the community these days,” Loefgren said. “It’s a different world.”

As usual, Freedom Fest will feature crowd favorites, such as  waffles from Blue Dolphin Cafe, a butterfly release sponsored by the Longboat Key Garden Club and the Rotary Club of Longboat Key’s Hot Diggity Dog Costume contest. Ponies from Sixteen Hands Horse Sanctuary will be there, so kids can get up close and personal with the rescued animals.

The prizes for the Hot Diggity Dog costume contest will be provided by the chef at The Resort at Longboat Key Club. Plus, the Rotary Club will have water bowls and a kiddie pool dogs can use to cool off after the parade.

Face painting, balloon art and games will be available at the celebration, too, and Loefgren is working on securing a photo booth. As always, Uncle Sam will make an appearance and join the fun. 

“Everything you could ever want in a cute little festival,” Loefgren said.

An addition this year is the appearance of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 82, “Longboat Key’s own” new patrol vessel “090” in the parade.

Kids can decorate their bikes, strollers or wagons and walk in the parade along with the dogs.

“I get such a kick out of seeing the joy on the kids’ faces, that’s my favorite part of it ... ” Loefgren said. 








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