East County's Waterlefe Golf and River Club a friendly community to hundreds
While driving through Waterlefe Golf and River Club the past 20 years, residents might have witnessed what resident Mike Jacobs calls the "Waterlefe wave."
"If you are driving in or out, someone is probably giving you the Waterlefe wave, and that is really a reflection of the sense of community that we have here," Jacobs said. "We don't know every person, but every person we encounter is outstanding."
Jacobs, who is also the chairman of the community's landscape committee, and his wife, Linda, bought a condo in Waterlefe 15 years ago and about seven years ago purchased a single-family home in the community. For the past four years, the couple has been living in Waterlefe year-round.
The Jacobs and hundreds of other Waterlefe residents came together Jan. 12 to celebrate the community's 20th anniversary with a video sharing Waterlefe's history, a declaration of the community's 20 years from Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace and fireworks.
Over its 20 years, Ken Bumgarner, current chairman of the CDD, said the community has expanded its golf course and river club to meets the community's needs and now has 617 homes.
"It's small enough that you get to know a lot of people and not so big that you run around," Bumgarner said.
Tony Maddaloni, who has lived in Waterlefe for almost 19 years, has seen the community grow while also maintaining its beauty and charm.
"It's a hidden gem," he said. "Everything is kept pristine and has been upgraded or at least maintained to its original beauty and because of that I think it's retained its charm."
Eileen and Peter Azzopardi moved to Waterlefe in November with their 9-year-old daughter, Sophia. Waterlefe being a boating and golfing community first piqued their interest. When they saw the Easter egg hunt the community had during a visit, they knew Waterlefe was for them.
"That put us over the edge," Eileen Azzopardi said. "They do things for families of all ages."