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Longboat's annual Freedom Fest brings 'shortest parade in America'

In the 2022 parade, the Longboat Key Island Chapel had a car and a bike.
In the 2022 parade, the Longboat Key Island Chapel had a car and a bike.
Photo by Lesley Dwyer
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Start to dust off the red, white and blue attire for yourself and your dogs. 

This year, the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 20th annual Freedom Fest celebration.

As usual, the Fourth of July celebration will kick off at 9 a.m. on Bay Isles Road, adjacent to town hall. At the start of the fest will be the butterfly release, sponsored by the Longboat Key Garden Club. Children can receive a small packet containing a butterfly and release them to officially begin the festival. 

Immediately following the butterfly release will be the parade, running from Truist Bank on Bay Isles Road to town hall. 

“I look forward to the parade. The parade has taken on kind of a legendary status, because we do call it the Shortest Parade in America,” said Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren. 

Loefgren encouraged anyone who wants to join the parade with any four-wheel vehicle to reach out to the Chamber of Commerce at 941-383-2466. 

In the two-hour event, Loefgren said they will try to provide a lot of fun for kids. A clown, face painting, a balloon artist and “Uncle Sam” will all make an appearance. 

For the furry friends, the Rotary Club of Longboat Key hosts the Hot Diggity Dog contest. Prizes will be given out for categories like most patriotic dog, most creative dog costume and best owner and dog combination. 

“It’s just cool to see the community gather and to have the chamber be able to present such a fun Fourth of July,” Loefgren said.

Traditionally, a grand marshal for the parade is chosen. Last year’s grand marshal was Lisa Walsh, one of the founders of Freedom Festival and vice president of the Observer Media Group. At the time of publication, Loefgren said a grand marshal for 2023 had not yet been chosen. 

Editor's note: The Observer Media Group is a promoting sponsor of Freedom Fest. Correction: The article has been updated to correct the spelling of Gail Loefgren's name, and to clarify that Freedom Fest is the Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce Fourth of July Celebration.



Carter Weinhofer

Carter Weinhofer is the Longboat Key news reporter for the Observer. Originally from a small town in Pennsylvania, he moved to St. Petersburg to attend Eckerd College until graduating in 2023. During his entire undergraduate career, he worked at the student newspaper, The Current, holding positions from science reporter to editor-in-chief.

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