If you've had the chance to use any aspect of The Bay Park in the past couple of years, you'll have enjoyed seeing the fast and impressive changes to the downtown landscape—from the fancy kayak launch to the beautiful mangroves dotted with nesting ibis. Phase One of the 53-acre downtown redevelopment project is now complete, and The Bay Park Conservancy is celebrating with a 10-day grand opening starting on Oct. 14.
“The grand opening is completely free and open, welcoming and accessible to everyone in our community,” says AG Lafley, founding CEO of The Bay Park Conservancy. The waterfront public park is designed to be “one park for all,” as Lafley puts it, “a gathering place that will bring our community together.”
The project has been in construction since 2019 and includes more than 15 acres of revitalized greenspace, a larger-than-life ibis playground, common ground lawns, the Mangrove Bayou walkway, an outdoor reading room, an ADA-accessible paddle launch, spectacular sunset views, and the restored and preserved mangroves and shorelines that draw a variety of wildlife to nest and reproduce in a rare ecological nursery.
Well-known Bradenton band We The Kings will kick off the first weekend with a concert along with The Long Run—a surprisingly impressive Eagles cover band with an uncanny talent for reproducing beloved hits like “Tequila Sunrise” and “Take it to the Limit.”
The rest of the week is dotted with community offerings, such as daily guided kayak tours, fitness classes, guided nature walks and live music every day at sunset. Local organizations including Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, Sarasota Orchestra and Sarasota Youth Opera will pop up for performances, as well.
The second weekend is charged with more events. RADD Night will host an evening of music, art and food. Among other weekend festivities will be Halloween celebrations, a Multicultural Festival and an Oktoberfest celebration. A concert featuring Grammy-nominated Etana and local favorite Jah Movement will wrap up the 10-day celebration.
For more information, visit 10daysatthebay.org