Although the history of the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key was on every diner's placemat on May 15, few remembered all of it. Except two diners, whose relationship to Kiwanis goes back to nearly the start of the service organization: John Wild, a long-tenured member who wrote the history of the club, and Jo Bell, a former Longboat Key police sergeant who received the club's first annual Policeman of the Year award in 1973.
The club started in 1972, so members celebrated the 50-year milestone with a brunch at the restaurant where they hold their meetings. Club President Michael Garey, who owns Lazy Lobster, organized a brunch to replace the annual pancake breakfast the club used to hold. Crispy golden waffles and potatoes, along with gold-star-worthy omelets, helped mark the club's golden anniversary.
Members of the club came in and donned yellow aprons (which they also wear during the Lawn Party) and got to work serving coffee and checking on diners. The buffet was decorated with banners and memorabilia from the club's past, including the record-breaking check they recently gave to Children's Guardian Fund after the success of the Lawn Party. Garey found the banners in storage at the Truist building and hung them up for the event. The rest of the decorations focused on the blue and gold of the club, including balloons at every table.
All told, about 200 friends of the club and hungry customers came to partake in brunch. Many were members or former members, but Garey said he had been taking reservations from people who had never been involved in any Kiwanis business. One family walked in after searching for a place for breakfast and stayed for the brunch. Coincidentally, one family member was celebrating her 50th birthday, too.
There were also more than 20 members of the Rotary Club of Longboat Key who came for brunch. Although they're different organizations, both service Longboat Key and its surrounding communities, and the Rotary members wanted to help mark such a landmark event for their fellow club.
"This means too much to our organization," Garey said.