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Freedom Fest celebration and parade is on in Longboat Key

The COVID-19 pandemic forced the town of Longboat Key to cancel its 2020 Fourth of July festivities.


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  • | 2:22 p.m. June 7, 2021
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The Longboat Key Town Commission approved plans to resume the annual Freedom Festival celebration and parade.

Commissioners voted 7-0 on Monday afternoon to waive the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce’s $100 permit fee. A temporary road closure is also planned for Bay Isles Road on Sunday, July 4.

“I’m very excited that we can now move forward and start to plan for the parade and for all the other things for the kids,” Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren said.

Last year, the town’s Independence Day festivities got canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year’s parade is set to close Bay Isles Road from 9 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. Sunday, July 4. Festivities at Bicentennial Park right next to Town Hall would host festivities from 7 a.m. to noon.

During Monday’s Town Commission meeting, At-Large Commissioner BJ Bishop asked Mayor Ken Schneier to remove the measure from the consent agenda so commissioners could discuss the logistics of the parade.

“I wish that our assistant police person were here to talk about what specific things we’re going to do to ensure that the traffic in and out of All Angels Episcopal Church is not compromised because they meet at both 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Sundays,” Bishop said. “Obviously, the parade route runs in conflict with people being able to get to church.”

Interim Police Chief George Turner and Deputy Police Chief Frank Rubino were not in attendance during Monday’s Town Commission meeting.

Loefgren said she has had conversations with Rubino about this year’s parade plans.

Public Works Director Isaac Brownman, whose department is the one that reviews permits for public forums, said the town is working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Longboat Key Police Department.

“With the parade being 15 minutes, there’s a couple of options there,” Brownman said.

Fourth of July has been on a Sunday in the past. The year 2010 marked the last time Independence Day fell on a Sunday.

“A lot of information will be forthcoming, especially about the parade,” Loefgren said. “I would like to have people know that the parade this year will be honoring our local heroes through the COVID crisis.”

Longboat Key Fire Chief Paul Dezzi is due to serve as one of the grand marshals of Freedom Fest.

Loefgren said she planned to select two other grand marshals: One who works in healthcare and someone from the Publix store at the Shoppes of Bay Isles.

“This is a big deal even though it’s a small hometown parade, but I would like to honor our people,” Loefgren said. “I’ve got to make sure [the] Rotary [Club] will do the Hot Diggity Dog Contest now that we’ve been approved. The kids and the dogs are the whole reason to do it.”

Loefgren said Cannons Marina owner David Miller is again planning to offer $500 to the best float in the parade.

“I’d like the whole parade to be really bigger than ever this year,” Loefgren said. “The same amount of time 15 minutes, but more floats.”