Angela Fisher of Largo, with her son Liam and granddaughter Avani Guynn enjoy playing in the sand at the Biggest Beach Party Ever.
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Indian Rocks Beach is a busy place any time, but hold a party and it gets even busier. The annual Biggest Beach Party Ever was April 28 and there was hardly any open space anywhere near the bandstand.
It was a turnout that made the organizers happy.
“It is hard to count but I’m sure we had anywhere from 2,000 to 3,000 at any one time,” said Phil Wrobel the incoming president of the Homeowners Association, sponsors of the event. “I’m told we had at least 5,000 people there throughout the afternoon.”
Wrobel said they made a change to the setup this year that made the event more manageable.
“We stretched things out a little bit to make more room for the vendors on the south end of the beach,” he said. “That allowed us to have more vendors and at the end they were happy. They told us they sold everything they brought.”
The vendors weren’t the only ones who were happy. There were smiles on the faces of everyone who attended the event. Debi and Vince Gillis from Sydney, Nova Scotia, were enjoying themselves taking it all in for the first time.
“This is our first time ever in Florida,” said Debi. “We are now already looking for a place for next year; we’re hoping to find a place closer to the beach.”
Her husband was just as enthusiastic, especially about the weather.
“There is no snow,” he said. “When we left home there was snow everywhere and we’ll be going back to cold weather. We’re enjoying this while we can.”
Nearby was a trio of young adults enjoying the event, particularly the things that appeal to many young adults.
“I love that you can drink on the beach,” said Sarah McClain of St. Petersburg. “The music is great and this is a fun crowd.”
“The drinking is great and I had some shepherd’s pie from the Red Lion that was awesome,” said her friend Nick Rosado. “Everything here is at a very affordable price.”
Their friend Jenna Knapstein of Largo was pleased for a different reason.
“This is an event where everybody can get together,” she said. “It is important to have events like this and usually every weekend you can find something like this.”
The music at the event was non-stop. Three bands played from the 4 p.m. start to the 10 p.m. end of the party. Among them was the band El Tree-O, featuring local artist Chris Dawson on the harmonica and vocals. It was the music that Wrobel credits with a good deal of success of the event.
“The three bands gave us a variety of music and it made for a fantastic night,” he said. “Everybody wants to see a live band and Chris Dawson has played for 25 or 30 years and certainly added to the success of the night.”
Wrobel said the entire event went well from start to finish.
“Everything went smoothly, it was a smooth night. There were a lot of new faces among the volunteers who wanted to get involved and they helped make it a wonderful success this year. Without them and the city of Indian Rocks Beach there is no way we could do what we do,” he said.
The party wasn’t just about drinking or dancing however. Hundreds of children joined their parents on the beach and spent the afternoon in the water or making sand castles. Angela Fisher of Largo was there with her son, Liam, 5, and her granddaughter, Avani Guynn, 1.
“We have been coming out here for four years in a row now,” she said. “We come to all the events here in Indian Rocks Beach. IRB has its own brand of decent people. Of course we’ll be back.”
For the first time in years outgoing Homeowners President Becky Griffin was seen relaxing and having a good time at the event. She has stepped down from the position she held for eight years and has had to relinquish control of events such as the beach party to Wrobel and other association members.
“After the event I feel much better now,” she said. “They did a great job. I didn’t do much and I feel much better. We’re not going to miss a beat and now I get to attend events instead of running them. They did a great job, the setup looked good and very professional and they attracted an older, more mature crowd with the bands.”
One thing Griffin doesn’t have to do anymore is begin to work on next year’s event. That job now falls to Wrobel and his people.
“We’re ready to go,” he said. “We’ll be sitting down at our wrap-up meeting and we’ll be finding ways to make it better and enhance the enjoyment of all involved.”