Annual Village Celebration attracts 3,000 attendees

By Gary Alan Ruse….

Pictured are (l-r) former village council members Paul Heidhart and Eugene Flinn with current council members Joan Lindsay and Patrick Fiore.

Palmetto Bay marked the ninth anniversary of its incorporation with its annual Village Celebration picnic in Coral Reef Park on Saturday, Mar. 5.

The event has become a large-scale “block party” for residents to get together in a relaxed way for a few hours of fun, and each year it seems to grow.

An estimated crowd of 3,000 people attended the Village Celebration picnic, with folks consuming 2,500 ears of corn, 3,200 hot dogs, 4,000 sodas, 2,500 bottles of water, 2,500 slices of pizza and 3,000 donuts, according to village staffers.

There also was live music, games for the kids and special displays to add to the fun. Palmetto Bay Mayor Shelley Stanczyk, who attended with other village council members, said she was pleased with how it turned out.

“I love it,” Stanczyk said. “This is the best part, seeing everybody together. This is why we incorporated. It gives you that nice hometown feel.”

Performing music at the bandstand were the Midnight Surprise Band, Christ Fellowship Academy “Counting Days” Band and students of the Perrine Elementary band, dance and drama classes. Girl Scout Troop 623 sang the National Anthem during the opening ceremonies.

Miami-Dade Police Department and Police Benevolent Association participated and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue had a fire engine and equipment there for photo ops with kids and even adults who wanted to put on a helmet and sit in the engine.

Shotokan Karate Academy students put on a display and there were face-painting clowns plus bounce houses and slides for the youngsters. For adults there was a bus tour of the area conducted by the Historic Preservation Board.

Sponsoring the event with donations or services were Edward Reese Holdings, Sunstate Bank, Waste Services, All Star Events and Krispy Kreme. Also pitching in were South Motors — BMW, Gus Machado Ford, Kendall Hyundai, Signs by Design, Ed’s Boot Camp, Kimley-Horn and Associates, Calvin Giordano and Associates, Maroone Nissan, Portland Construction, i-9 Sports, C B Sports and the Art Photography Parent Association of Southwood Middle School.

St. Richards Catholic Church provided extra parking, RiteCare again provided the first aid tent, Holy Rosary Catholic Church helped out, as did Dottie Barton and other volunteers.

Pat and Jim Gladieux brought their usual artistry to the corn roasting station, and with the pizza, hot dogs, drinks and snack items no one went away hungry.

Village special events coordinator Mary Fernandez not only worked on the picnic for the first time, it was her first chance to experience the event as well.

“It was challenging,” Fernandez said. “I’ve been hearing about this event since I started working here, about what a huge event it was and how it calls the community. But people who had worked it before kept telling me how everything just falls into place, and sure enough, it did.

“Our staff was amazing. Our guys were grilling like grill-masters out there. Christ Fellowship volunteers were amazing. I’ve worked events with volunteers before, but never like this. They were motivated, courteous and a pleasure to work with. It’s amazing to see the amount of people who mobilize for this event and do such a great job at it. What a nice effort by everybody to put this on.”

Fernandez has two small children, so it was something she also enjoyed attending.

“It was just the perfect day to be out there,” Fernandez said. “You had the music, the food, the rides; the weather was gorgeous. My family had a great time.”

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