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Kiwanis Lawn Party tops record

The Kiwanis Club met Thursday morning to discuss the results of their annual lawn party held on Dec. 3 at Ken Thompson Park.

The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key meets for their montly meeting to discuss the Dec. 3 Lawn Party by the Bay.
The Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key meets for their montly meeting to discuss the Dec. 3 Lawn Party by the Bay.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Even with increased expenses due to changing the venue to Ken Thompson Park, the Kiwanis Lawn Party continues to top itself each year. 

Organizers met on Thursday for their monthly Kiwanis Club meeting at the Lazy Lobster for a final review, where President Michael Garey humbly admitted to member Lynn Larson that she was right and he was wrong. 

The debate was over the raffle prize. Last year’s 50/50 brought in $45,000. But selling so many tickets was a nightmare, and some people objected to more than $20,000 going to an individual versus a charitable cause. In this case, the Children’s Guardian Fund, an organization that supports local foster children.

Larson thought a $5,000  prize would bring in about the same for CGF without the backlash. Garey gave Larson a kiss on the cheek after telling the club it raised $23,000, a little more than last year with a lot less stress and work.  

The silent auction also outdid itself, bringing in over $4,000, which is a 25% to 30% increase over last year. The total donation number can’t be tallied to the penny yet. Vendors still need to be paid, and not all the match dollars have come in, but the club is estimating to hit $95,000 this year. 

The new location on City Island was a good fit. While already booked for next year, the club isn’t ruling out the Town Center Green. 

“I just want to be safe-guarded that we don’t lose Ken Thompson Park,” Garey said. “What I don’t want to do is go to Town Center Green next year and not be able to go there the year after.”

The upside of the Town Center is that the party can stay on Longboat. The downside is that final plans are up in the air. Ken Thompson can easily accommodate 1,200, while the Town Center would most likely cap out at around 900 guests. 

"The added space allowed us to accommodate more restaurants and wineries this year as well," Garey said. "What is most important to our Kiwanis Club is raising the most money for the kids. We feel the best chance at having future success for the Lawn Party is having it at a consistent site that can also handle growth."



Lesley Dwyer

Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.

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