- September 30, 2021
While it's not moving very far, the Longboat Key Kiwanis Club's Lawn Party is headed off the island for the first time to City Island for 2022, pending final approval by the city of Sarasota.
The Ken Thompson Park site for the club's signature fund-raising event on Saturday, Dec. 3 offers a panoramic view of Sarasota Bay and allows for additional vendor booths, room for guests and more parking.
Last year's site, the Town Center Green adjacent to Town Hall and the Public Tennis Center, is expected to be under construction by December with plans to raise the level of the property and build a performance stage alongside other amenities.
Kiwanis President Michael Garey told club members about the new location at this month’s meeting on Sept. 15.
Garey, along with Lynn Larson, scouted resorts, golf course sites and churches on Longboat Key before finally venturing over New Pass bridge to visit the City Island site, within the boundaries of Sarasota.
They also viewed a waterfront location at the Longboat Key Club, but access for participants would have been problematic, Garey said.
The Ken Thompson Park site can accommodate an additional 200 people beyond the 800 who attended last year at the Town Center Green. More parking and room for tents to accommodate participating restaurants are available at City Island, Garey said.
“We are very excited because we think this can take our event to the next level, the regional level,” Garey said.
The official approval has not been granted yet, but the Kiwanis Club filed a six-page online application, paid associated fees and met with city officials to address concerns including alcohol being served and valet parking. Final approval of a site plan is still pending.
“All of it’s been addressed,” Garey said, “There’s no reason I could think of, nor could they, that this would not be approved. We're optimistic.”
Last year's event generated about $90,000 in donations from the club to the Children’s Guardian Fund, and the 2020 party was cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns.
The 2019 Lawn Party, which featured a salute to Murf Klauber, the owner of the iconic Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, was held at the Longboat Key Club Harbourside. Previous versions have been held at Temple Beth Israel, the practice range at the Longboat Key Club's Links golf course and other locations at the Longboat Key Club.