MADEIRA BEACH – City leaders are planning an entire day of luau-themed Fourth of July activities at Archibald Park in Madeira Beach, concluding with a fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico.
“This will be the best Fourth of July Madeira Beach has ever had,” said Mayor Travis Palladeno.
The gulfside location is a change from previous Fourth events, which have been held at Rex Place adjacent to city hall.
Daylong activities will include a tiki bar, food vendors, volleyball, hula-hoop and limbo contests, live bands, and the city of Madeira Beach 65th anniversary celebration.
Preparations for the activity were discussed at the City Commission June 12 meeting by event planner Tom Verdensky of Squid Ink Productions.
Verdensky said at a previous meeting that moving the Fourth of July celebration to the beach makes sense.
“People stay on the beach all day,” he said. “We’ll take advantage of that with activities throughout the day and evening.”
City Manager Shane Crawford announced at the meeting that a barge for the fireworks display had finally been located and rented. The availability of a barge had been a lingering uncertainty looming over the event.
“We were way behind in finding an affordable barge,” Crawford said. Describing the effort, he said, “Every barge in Florida is rented for the Fourth of July. We were Googling right and left trying to locate one.”
Getting the barge “has been a fight,” Crawford said.
The weather must also cooperate. Shooting off fireworks from a barge in rough waters will not work, Crawford said. Should stormy seas force a cancellation, a rain date has been set for the following Friday, July 6.
Public parking will not be allowed at Archibald Park during the Fourth celebration. Vice Mayor Robin Vander Velde initially opposed a planned charge of $10 a car to park at the fields by city hall and be shuttled over. She later agreed to it when the commission decided to allow residents with city parking stickers (available at no charge at city hall) to park free.
Crawford said the parking revenue is needed to help pay for the event, which is expected to cost about $35,000. The city hopes to break even on the expense. A donation has been pledged to the city’s 9/11 memorial fund.
Commissioner Nancy Oakley said most residents would walk to the park, or use the beach trolley. People attending from other communities will mostly pay the parking fee, she said.
About 5,000 people are expected to attend the celebration, and safety is also a concern.
“We’re having an event on a beach where we allow drinking, and fireworks after dark. We need to be aware of that,” Vander Velde said.
Security is an issue and “our No. 1 goal is to keep it safe,” said Verdensky, the event planner. His firm will provide security officers. Asked by Vander Velde about installing surveillance cameras, Verdensky said he would look into it.
Crawford said the push is still on to get the beach and fireworks celebration put together by the Fourth of July.
“We’ve got to put together one heck of a party real fast,” he said.
Doggie dining is on
The commission took the final step in allowing dogs to join their owners dining outdoors in participating city food establishments. An ordinance allowing doggie dining passed 5-0 on second and final reading.