Residents mingled with town organizations at Bayfront Park.
Longboat Key organizations leapt at the chance to connect with the residents they serve at the Community Open House on Feb. 29 as Leap Day brought dozens of residents to Bayfront Park to mix and mingle with their fire and police departments and several town organizations.
“We were born and raised (on Longboat Key),” said Rachel DeBickero, who came from down the street to the event. “I can't believe we never knew about this event.”
Various town organizations had tables set up, including departments of town government, the Longboat Key Turtle Watch, the Longboat Key Bicycle Association and the Longboat Key Garden Club.
“We’ve seen an incredible amount of visitors,” Turtle Watch member Charlene Donnelly said. “It started as soon as we set up.”
Every organization had a display to show what they were all about. Turtle Watch had a loggerhead turtle shell and dioramas of healthy home habits for island dwellers.
“We want to get people to ask questions,” Donnelly said. “They love visuals. It’s all about getting people to relate and there are different ways to interact.”
Assistant to the town manager and Garden Club president Susan Phillips presided over the CodeRed booth, assisting residents with questions about the emergency alert system.
“Most people, when they walk by, I ask if they received the CodeRed alert on Thursday (about closures on GMD),” Susan Phillips said. “If they say, ‘What are you talking about?’ then I explain it to them.”
Phillips appreciated the community-facing event for allowing residents to ask questions and sign up for the emergency alerts on the spot.
Town employees and residents brought their children to the event, and the youngest attendees made quick friends with each other as they explored the exhibits and the fire truck. Attendees got to snack on cotton candy as well as burgers and hot dogs grilled up by the fire department and residents on their early-afternoon walks through the park had the opportunity to stop and learn more about where they live.