The "world's shortest parade" brought folks together for freedom and fun
Longboat Key's Freedom Fest parade and celebration launched the patriotic vibes of July Fourth on Thursday morning.
The "world's shortest parade" packed a lot into its roughly quarter-mile route — a Longboat Key fire truck was present, kids rolled by on their decorated bikes, and Uncle Sam (Jim Seaton, to be exact) even passed out beads to excited kids watching. Aaron Watkins on stilts towered over the crowd and brought the American mood with his rendition of "When The Saints Go Marching In" on the harmonica.
A crowd of Longboat residents young and old had been gathering for about an hour before the parade stepped off at about 9 a.m. Spirits were high, and it was hard to find a face without a smile as everyone reveled in the community event. Residents such as Barbara Kuzmich and her dog Bonnie were veterans of the event, while for folks such as Mike and Jeannine Starr and their dogs Sophie and Lucy, it was their first time.
The Rotary Club of Longboat Key put on the Hot Diggity Dog section of the parade, which is in its sixth year. Judges Jack Rozance and Jay Sparr had a tough time choosing the winners in a dog-eat-dog contest after the parade, eventually choosing three winners and two honorable mentions.
Post-parade, the festivities continued at Bicentennial Park, where The Lazy Lobster put on carnival games, the Blue Dolphin Cafe served up patriotic waffles, kids made sand art and got their faces painted, and freedom rang with music playing.