Rockin’ in Palmetto Bay at the Food & Rock Festival

Rockin’ in Palmetto Bay at the Food & Rock Festival

Daughter Meghan and Karyn Cunningham (Councilwoman District 1), Susan White, Mayor Eugene Flinn and his wife Alex

Now in its third year, the Palmetto Bay Food & Rock Festival took place at Ludovici Park (behind the Palmetto Bay public library) on Dec. 6.

For seven hours, more than 1,500 people were treated to live music, high quality food/drink, glorious weather and an all-around good time.

Run by Florida Rock Stars’ co-founders Richard DiBenedetto and Mickey Filippucci, the multi-hour event raised money for charity, and brought Palmetto Bay another great outdoor event. “We don’t do this for the money, we have a love for live, local music and putting on a big party,” said DiBenedetto.

“This event sends out a clear note that our Village truly is an enviable place to be,” said Mayor Eugene Flinn. “Top-quality programs like this – along with our hugely successful ‘Holiday by the Bay’ event – are what people look for when deciding to keep their home or business here. Why go anywhere else when you can go right down the street for a great night out or a memorable family experience? Quality of life, that’s what it is all about.”

Rockin’ in Palmetto Bay at the Food & Rock Festival

Julian Falcon meets Santa along the parade route

The festival featured performances by Cutler Stew, The Livesays, The Regs and Mr. Nice Guy, each delivering a solid 90- minute set of their high-energy rock. “This is one of the reasons to be in South Florida,” said Karen Towriss. “Seeing so many great bands in one place with all this amazing food and energy is a real treat!”

In the past five years, Florida Rock Stars has put on several shows in Palmetto Bay and Homestead, each with challenges. They attempted to do a huge show at Zoo Miami this year, but couldn’t reach agreement with county officials. With the help of Ron Derrick of the band Cutler Stew, Palmetto Bay was tapped instead.

“This really was a blessing,” said DiBenedetto, “The Village rolled out the red carpet for us and people like Ed Silva and Fanny Carmona of the Parks Department cut through the typical red tape to make this happen at an extremely high level.”

The festival featured local food vendors and an impressive air-conditioned VIP area, complete with a live feed of the show and Rock Stars frozen margaritas.

“The response was incredible and everyone is ready and excited for next year,” Filippucci said. “One of our main goals is to support charity.

Rockin’ in Palmetto Bay at the Food & Rock Festival

Mayor Eugene Flinn, Councilwoman Karyn Cunningham and Vice Mayor John DuBois

This year we helped raise $11,000 for Parker-Haar’s ‘Team Jess’, a 24- year old three-peat cancer survivor who lives in Palmetto Bay. We also raised $1,200 for Mike Fink’s ‘Patches’ organization who helps poor sick kids in Homestead.”

Mayor Flinn looked toward the future. “This year the Ed & Arlene Feller Amphitheater at Ludovici Park was the right venue, but as this major community event grows, it could easily become a cornerstone program for a future downtowndistrict amphitheater. With fast access to mass transportation and ample parking, and a smooth flow onto the US1 commercial corridor, this is exactly the type event that could really make our downtown rock and roll, and draw attention to this viable new business and residential hub.”

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and all through Mangowood the children were far from nestled in their beds. That’s because each year Santa makes a special trip to parade down their neighborhood streets courtesy of the 56-year old voluntary civic association.

“Ever since 1972 when we bought this car, it’s been tradition to do this for the kids,” said Rose Van Patten. “Before that, it was a gift exchange at the flagpole.”

On Dec. 20, the fire and police departments, along with Palmetto Bay Village council members toured Santa past the homes of delighted kids handing out candy canes and good cheer to the residents of this idyllic area.

“It’s another great year here and we’d like to think a little bit of Mangowood goes all the way through Palmetto Bay this time of year,” said Mayor Flinn.

After an hour parade, expertly chauffeured by Stanley Kowlessar in a cherry red Model A rumble back sleigh, Santa joined the neighbors out on the street for a holiday block party. It was quite the clatter.

“We even made a hot chocolate bar with special toppings for everyone and Santa is right next door to our house!” said sevenyear old Victoria Johnson.

Sure enough, the line to take pictures on Santa’s lap wound through the crowd of about 100 neighbors who cheerfully greeted each other in the holiday spirit.

And as quickly as it started, Santa sprang back into his sleigh.

“Cheers and good wishes on this happiest of day,” he said. “Ho, ho, ho! Merry Christmas to all and to all a good-night!”

Happy New Year! I wish you happiness and real estate success in 2015 and look forward to sharing the best of South Florida with you through my column right here in the Pinecrest Tribune.

Hal Feldman is a Realtor with RE/MAX Advance Realty. Contact him with your story ideas or real estate questions at , or

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