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A week filled with local activities

by Roger Pettingell

Festivals, Powerboats and Fireworks

Enjoy your 4th of July holiday with plenty of events in the Sarasota area

Superboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico
Powerboat Grand Prix - Reduced to one day of racing this year as powerboats motor past Lido Key on Sunday

Although the annual Powerboat Grand Prix hailed its two preliminary events the past few days, the kickoff party on Wednesday will start the trend of thousands to visit Sarasota for the full festival and the traditional fireworks in the area. The crowds will descend downtown and Lido Beach will come alive for the 35th annual festival. With the races reduced to just powerboats, there will only be one full day of racing off Lido Beach to be held on Sunday.

As part of the Powerboat festival, eight days of events were initiated with the 4th Annual Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic on Saturday at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota. Also completed was the Boat & Personal Watercraft fun run yesterday. It started at Marina Jack with a shotgun start and a variety of boats with travels to the Salty Dog, Bridge Tender and Tarpon Bay Grill. Proceeds benefited the Suncoast Charities for Children. A private event The Friendliest Catch fishing tournament is another Suncoast Charities for Children at the Sarasota Outboard Club on City Island Tuesday.

Many powerboat fans will be visiting the Grand Prix Kickoff Party in the grand foyer of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Wednesday starting at 6 PM. The Caribbean Chillers, an international travelling Jimmy Buffett tribute band is the live entertainment for the night. Wear your patriotic apparel for this evening of fun and island style food.

One of many firework displays this week, the Bayfront Spectacular is part of the Grand Prix Festival. Prime viewing is from Bayfront Park, but anywhere downtown will be good with an open view of the bay. Should be great if you can find a location on a rooftop. The fireworks start at 9 PM on Thursday.

Miss Geico
Miss Geico returns with a completely new look and mechanicals. The Miss Geico boat finished first in the Unlimited class in last year's festival. Meet driver James Sheppard and throttleman Steve Curtis at the Hyatt Regency for a Meet and Greet on Friday.

Meet and Greet Who’s in the Driver Seat is an autograph signing event by the race team pilots. Those 18 and under are free, a five-dollar donation will be accepted for all other guests. It starts at 1 PM on Friday in the Hyatt Regency Ballroom downtown. The Boats on the Block follows at 6 PM and will be held on Main Street from Orange Avenue to South Palm Avenue. The powerboats will be on display for pictures, live music and great food will keep you busy for hours.

Two events on day seven start at 9 AM, the Car & Motorcycle Show at Rossiter’s Harley-Davidson, four hours of some of the best-in-show four-wheel and two-wheel vehicles. Remote Control Race Boats is a charity event on Saturday where competitors of all ages pilot their own boat modeled after those in the big race festival. It takes place at O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill on the Bayfront from 10 AM to noon on Saturday.

Miss Geico returns, a crowd favorite powerboat, kicking off a single-day of racing in the Class 1-7 course off Lido Beach at 10 AM on Sunday. Also entered in the Class One performance boats are Victory, 222 Racing, Lucas Oil and Scuderia Cazzani. Class One boats are the largest of the races and travel at speeds up to 160 MPH. Superstocks, Super Vee Extreme and Prostock Vee begin their races at 11:30 AM. The Supercat style boats race at 12:30 PM, while the Class One and Vee Extreme finish the day of racing at 2 PM followed by an awards ceremony at 6 PM in the Hyatt Regency ballroom. Viewing is free on the beach, a special VIP area at the Sandcastle Resort has been sold out.

In 2018 the impact of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival generated an estimated $20 million to the local economy with over $2.657 million in hotel spending. Of the $721,753 sales tax collected, $69, 670 was reimbursed to the county. Sarasota County collected its own sales tax of $120,292.

Other Area Fireworks and Festivals, Wednesday and Thursday schedule

Fireworks on Thursday
Fireworks off Bayfront Park in Sarasota, part of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix this year.

Get an early jump on fireworks Wednesday at dusk with two local displays in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The Bradenton Marauders take on the Jupiter Hammerheads on Wednesday at LECOM park in Bradenton, followed by an Independence Day fireworks celebration. Before dusk at 7 PM, the Fireworks 4 Miler is a prelude to the fireworks that follow at Nathan Benderson Park.

But a majority of the fireworks are scheduled for Thursday, following a day of celebrations at parks around the area. A party in Bicentennial Park starts the day on Longboat Key as the Freedom Fest and the half mile Hot Diggity Dog Parade begins at the Suntrust Bank building on Bay Isles Road. Dress your pup in the best red, white and blue for a chance to win prizes in this annual event.

While the Freedom Fest starts at 9 AM, so does the Myakka River Kayak Festival as the two early morning festivals. Rent a canoe or kayak, then eat plenty and sample some of 30 different craft beers while listening to live Folk Americana music at Snook Haven in Venice.

Palmetto will hold its 9th annual Fourth of July Festival in Sutton Park followed by fireworks in Sutton Park, a full day of entertainment, music, food and drink. Rare Earth and Mark Farner’s American Band, two oldies rock favorites precede the fireworks over the Manatee River at the Green Bridge with good viewing from both sides of the river.

Privateers on Anna Maria Island
Break out your swashbuckling attire for the annual Privateers Fourth of July Parade.

If you are on Anna Maria Island Thursday you will undoubtedly find the Privateers Fourth of July Parade. The parade is a lengthy one which starts at Coquina Beach, 10 AM, and finishes on the north end of the island at the city pier. Stick around for the fireworks at the Sandbar Restaurant. The All-American Cookout at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens features food preparations from Michael’s on East, a family dance party, games and other activities before the Bayfront Fireworks Spectacular.

There are fireworks in the area that are not centrally tied to a community festival. The viewing area for the Siesta Key Community Fireworks on the beach opens at 6 PM, and areas around the south jetty in Venice are prime locations for the fireworks there shortly after sunset. The weather forecasts are typical for this time of year as the normal summer pattern spreads across the area, with little rain chances except for an afternoon shower. It shouldn’t dampen any of your plans. But for more local events, check out our updated schedule of events.

Last week I listed a private waterfront residence that is tucked away at the end of a cul-de-sac in the secluded Hideaway Bay community at 705 Hideaway Bay Lane. A tropical oasis, this 3BR home offers walls of lush foliage surrounding the property, complemented by pavered walkways, charming gardens, a hammock, plus newer dock and lift on sailboat-deep waters that enhance its seclusion. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy. Enjoy your Independence Day Holiday festivities.


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705 Hideaway Bay Lane $1,495,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Fourth of July Spectacular Weekend in Sarasota

by Roger Pettingell

Superboats, Theater and Fireworks Saturday

The Suncoast Grand Prix attracts thousands to Sarasota

It's not all about Super Boats, Envy's Viper drew a crowd
It's not just about boats, Envy's Viper drew a crowd at the Grand Prix Super Boat races in 2014.

In just about any location this weekend in the Sarasota you will be able to find fireworks, that’s a given. If you like the theater, expect plenty there too. The Hound of the Baskervilles, a comical play based on the investigations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson begins Wednesday and plays through August 2 in the Keating Theatre here in Sarasota. REBORNING, by Zayd Dohr, and directed by Brendon Fox is a dark comedy of creation to motherhood. It is currently running at the Urbanite Theatre and concludes July 12 with a matinee. Six Guitars combines comedy, story-telling, and music by Chase Padgett that covers the careers of six guitar players at the Florida Studio Theatre, also through July 12. The Summer Circus Spectacular 2015 is running through August 1 at the Ringling’s Historic Asolo Theater.

Thousands of spectators will be in Sarasota this weekend for the 31st running of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival, with its name change to the Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix this year. Speedboats will travel in excess of 150 mph past the shores of Lido and Siesta keys with the addition of jet ski races Saturday and Sunday. The four days of parades, meet and greets, open water testing and the races attract boating enthusiasts worldwide to this area over the holiday weekend.

In 2014 the event raised $80,000 for its host, the Suncoast Charities for Children. This year the races will be televised nationally on three major sports channels and has over 30 power boat and 60 jet ski racers this year.

The Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix has already begun with opening festivities this past weekend. The Aqua Plumbing & Air Grand Prix Golf Classic was held Saturday at the Meadows Country Club. Sunday’s Car Show in Lakewood Ranch, the Boat & Personal Watercraft Fun Run and Finz Finds Motorcycle "Freedom Ride" were part of the Grand Prix program.

More events are to follow including the kickoff party at the Sarasota Yacht Club on Tuesday and the "The Friendliest Catch" fishing tournament for special needs children on Wednesday. On Friday, prime time televised coverage will begin on the CBS Sports Network with the festival parade of boats and block party.

Fireworks will be on display at nearly every location on Saturday. There is a list following this article of fireworks locations from Englewood to Tarpon Springs, including the spectacular planned for the Grand Prix at Marina Jack. One will be missing this year. Typically the day before other fireworks, the 22nd annual fireworks from the Beach House restaurant on Bradenton Beach was cancelled to help protect rare migrating bird species. Black skimmers and lesser terns are nesting on north end of the property. This is a top-notch display, but I appreciate the conservation effort. If you still want fireworks on the day before, consider the Marauder's baseball game on July 3 at McKechnie Field in Bradenton. Here are fireworks on Independence Day:

  • All American Barbecue and Fireworks - Selby Gardens, Sarasota
  • Fireworks at Marina Jack - Marina Jack, Sarasota
  • Sandbar Fireworks Spectacular! - Sandbar Restaurant, Anna Maria Island
  • Siesta Key Fireworks and Party - Crescent Beach, Siesta Key
  • Fireworks Over the Manatee River - River walk, Bradenton
  • Fourth Festival with fireworks and country music - Sutton Park, Palmetto
  • Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks - Main Street, Safety Harbor
  • Englewood Firecracker Festival - Dearborn Street, Englewood
  • Fourth of July Fireworks - Venice - South Jetty Pier, Venice
  • Fourth of July Patriotic Picnic in the Park - Craig Park, Tarpon Springs
  • Gulfport's Fourth of July - Beach Boulevard, Gulfport
  • Fourth of July at the Aquarium - Florida Aquarium, Tampa

These and other Fourth of July events are on our calendar, enjoy your holiday weekend. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy. Our new listings on Longboat Key offer value to those wishing to buy property on the Gulf Coast in the Sunshine State.

3260 Bayou Sound, Longboat Key $899,000 Video Photo Slideshow
524 Halyard Lane, Longboat Key $699,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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Roger Pettingell?


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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.