Darleen and Patrick Thompson, left, return to the Biggest Beach Party Ever where they met two years ago. They have since been married. With them at this year’s event, held April 27, are Homeowners President Becky Griffin and volunteer Phil Wrobel
INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – For as many years as anyone can remember the Indian Rocks Beach Homeowners Association has hosted the Biggest Beach Party Ever. This year it has lived up to its name.
Less than an hour after it began at 5 p.m. on April 27, Becky Griffin, the Homeowners president, said there was no question it was already bigger than a year ago.
“This is our first year with a live band so that might be part of the reason,” she said. “Also the weather is great and people just seem to want to have a party.”
A year ago the rain came down for about an hour and drove people off the beach.
“They scattered once the rain came,” said volunteer Phil Wrobel. “But as soon as it stopped, they all came back and the party resumed; we didn’t miss a beat.”
Another indication that the crowd was bigger this year than expected was because they ran out of raffle tickets.
“We thought we had enough and now we’re scrambling to find more, somewhere. This is a bit of a crisis for us,” said Griffin. “The band hasn’t started yet and that will bring even more people. Those tickets mean money to us.”
No one but the organizers knew anything about the lack of raffle tickets. Two years ago they ran out of beer; they made sure it didn’t happen last year or this year. That no doubt was part of the reason why the shoulder-to-shoulder crowd was having such a good time. Among them two people who had a special story to tell. Darleen and Patrick Thompson met at the Biggest Beach Party two years ago. It was the beginning of a new life for both of them.
“My daughters had been bugging me to get out of the house more,” said Darleen. “So they brought me here and dropped me off. I was alone. Patrick and I got talking and we stayed together during the evening. He walked me home and we met for breakfast the next morning and we’ve been together ever since.”
They were married in October. Wrobel called it “our first success story.”
Nearby friends Lisa Wittmann of Largo and Britt Berg of Safety Harbor were chatting while Berg’s daughter Anneka was building a sand castle.
“This has been worth the drive,” said Berg. “This is our first time here and I’m glad we came and I’m glad it didn’t rain.”
Ted Canarozzi and Jim English were enjoying the sights of the crowd and agreeing this was the biggest party ever.
“In the 26 years I have lived in Indian Rocks Beach this is the most people I have ever seen,” said Canarozzi. “It is hard to believe that it is snowing in other places, but not here.”
Amy and Paul Carlson were sitting in their beach chairs having a drink and enjoying the event. They, too, said it was a great event.
“It is a beautiful evening,” said Amy. “We’ve been here before and we’ll come again for sure.”
“I’ve lived in this community for 32 years and I think that says it all,” said Paul.
Griffin was all smiles even during the mini-crisis over the raffle tickets. She could hardly say anything else.