15th Anniversary Celebration rocks Downtown Vero Beach

VERO BEACH — Offering up a terrific band, a beautiful night and activities for young and old, the Downtown Friday 15th Anniversary celebration rocked Downtown Vero Beach with another great street party.

The first Downtown Friday, the brainchild of a group residents interested in revitalizing downtown Vero Beach, took place 15 years ago. The now popular street parties were the precursor to similar events held beachside and throughout the community, but it initially took a little persuading to get the concept off the ground.

New to Vero Beach at the time, and with a shop in the Pocahontas Building, Bea Gardner wanted to come up with a family friendly event that would bring awareness to the downtown area and raise funds for street improvements.  She got immediate support from Beverly Paris and Donna Roberts and the three went about establishing a committee of volunteers to work on the project.

“We had no money,” says Gardner, “but Peter Busch said he was willing to fund the event to get it growing.  We ended up with a diverse group of 22 people on the committee.  Having beer was a big concern, so [the late] Millie Bunnell took Jim Gabbard to Fort Pierce to see how they handled it. He was a big help to us and for years let us hold meetings at the police station.”

The classic rock band OPM (Other People’s Music) had Friday night’s crowd dancing in the streets with a terrific mix of familiar hits.  The regular Downtown Friday area, along 14th Avenue was enlarged a bit for this special anniversary party, to accommodate the numerous businesses, non-profit organizations, crafters and politicians who hosted booths. The crowd was also entertained by acrobatics, a Brazilian martial arts group and Zumba demonstrations.  To recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the charity of the evening was SafeSpace. {igallery 58}

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