The 13th annual Celebration Picnic, hosted each year by the Village of Palmetto Bay to commemorate its incorporation in 2002 as an independent municipality, is primarily a neighborhood get-together for food, fun and camaraderie, but this year it also served as a chance to raise money for a good cause.
Village Mayor Eugene Flinn willingly set himself up for repeated soakings in the event’s dunk tank, allowing anyone and everyone to throw a baseball at a small target that, when struck, sent him plunging into the water below. The money raised from selling balls to throw at the dunk tank was earmarked for donation to Ronald McDonald House Charities. Roughly $140 was raised, and Mayor Flinn pledged to match that amount for a total of $280 in donations in honor of Bridget Allison Pier, the daughter of village clerk Meighan Alexander.
Ronald McDonald House Charities, through a world-wide network of local chapters, has, since 1974, provided shelter and support to families whose children are hospitalized, as Alexander’s daughter was while on a family vacation in July 2011. Sadly, Alexander’s daughter passed away, but the support given at Ronald McDonald House, in a sedate setting with other families who were going through similar difficulties, made a lasting impression.
“My family is forever grateful to Ronald McDonald House Charities and is very appreciative of Mayor Flinn’s decision to choose this charity for the village’s picnic,” Meighan Alexander said.
Mayor Flinn was philosophical about the event and his decision to help raise funds in that way.
“This is not the first time I’ve sat in the dunk tank for charity,” Flinn said. “I just think it’s part of giving back. It’s a simple thing to do. It let’s people hopefully get out a little bit of frustrations and put some money toward a good charity. This year it was Ronald McDonald House and we’ll see next year if we do it again to raise money.”
Vice Mayor John DuBois joined in by pledging $10 for every successful dunk to be donated to Camillus House, where he spends a great deal of his personal time helping the homeless. His work at Camillus Health Concerns also benefits the medically indigent.
This year’s Celebration Picnic on Mar. 7 drew nearly 4,000 people to Coral Reef Park, the traditional site of the event. An estimated 3,500 hot dogs, 4,000 Krispy Kreme donuts, 2,500 slices of pizza, 2,000 bags of chips and 2,000 ears of corn were consumed, along with nearly 6,000 cans of sodas and water.