The annual celebration had around 200 attendees
Longboat Key was dyed red, white and blue Monday morning as friends, family and residents of Longboat Key celebrated the Fourth of July at the annual “Freedom Fest” on Bay Isles Road.
Dave Brenner was this year’s Grand Marshal and said despite the hot weather, it was a great day.
“It’s an American tradition,” he said. “It’s fun.”
He also said that the event was bigger than in years past. Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce President Gail Loefgren said there was between 200 and 250 guests. The event started off with a parade of about 12 cars, four of which were business cars including Cannons Marina and Montgomery’s Carpets Plus. Bike-riding kids and dressed-up dogs followed.
The parade did have one new addition this year- a drummer. 13-year-old Colin Heintz led the kids down the parade route while playing the marching quad drums. He said this was his first solo performance, though he is a member of the drumline at Bradenton Christian School. Loefgren, Heintz’s grandmother, said hopes he brings some fellow drummers with him next year.
“It adds to the ambiance,” she said.
After the parade, event-goers enjoyed a butterfly release in honor of former mayor Ron Johnson who recently passed away. Following the butterfly release, the winners of the Hot Diggity Dog! Parade and Contest were announced. The Most Creative award went to Sharon Avison and her dog Bryce, a Brittany Spaniel. The Most Patriotic dog was Bonnie, a West Highland White, and her owner Barbara Kuzmich. The Best Owner and Dog Combination went to Katherine Stone and her Shih Tzu Neunie.
In addition to the butterfly release and Hot Diggity Dog! Parade and Contest attendees enjoyed a variety of games, face painting, balloon animals and sand art. The dogs even got to relax and cool off in a small swimming pool.
Blue Dolphin Cafe owner Robbie Ball served Belgian waffles with strawberries and whipped cream and sausage links to hungry guests. Ball said the cafe has served food at the event since the first parade about 15 years ago.
Loefgren was pleased with how the event went and said it was a lot of fun.
“Everyone enjoys this,” she said. “It’s an old-fashioned Fourth of July.”