VERO BEACH – Despite a light drizzle that finally became a steady rain, a few hundred people turned out for fun and food at Vero Beach’s first Fourth of July Family Fun Festival at Riverside Park Sunday.
“So far, so good,” said Recreation Department Director Rob Slezak of the turnout about an hour and a half into the nearly 5-hour long event.
He said that, if the rain lets up, he would expect about a thousand festivalgoers – and another 10,000 for the fireworks display still scheduled for 9 p.m. This was the first year for the event, which serves as a fundraiser for the recreation department.
“We’ve always had people ask about it,” Slezak said of the city hosting a Fourth of July festival.
He added that city officials decided to try it this year, though start small with a couple bounce houses and an inflatable water slide.
One bounce house, however, suffered mechanical difficulties early on and was disassembled, according to Slezak.
By about 5 p.m., more than a dozen children were in line, waiting their turn on the waterslide while their parents stood huddled under umbrellas or sat under a tent.
Another half-dozen kids jumped around inside a palm tree-themed bounce house giggling and chasing each other around.
Lauryn, 9, and Layne, 7, Chesney were two girls standing in line for the water slide while their parents, Leigh and Marc, sat under the nearby tent.
As the rain picked up, Lauryn ran to her mom and asked if they could ride the slide again.
“You’re already wet,” Leigh said, giving the girls permission to go again.
“We’re happy if they’re happy,” Leigh said. “And they’re having fun.”
The family came up from Fort Pierce to check out the Vero Beach Fourth of July Family Fun Festival.
“We’ve done the Fort Pierce thing before,” said Leigh, noting they wanted to see what Vero Beach had to offer.
Along with the bounce house and water slide from Billy’s Bounce House, there were vendors selling snow cones, cotton candy, and barbecue.
Herbeque BBQ Catering and Sunside Fun Snowballs were on hand to satisfy cravings for barbeque and icy sweets
The vendors will be donating 15 percent of the day’s proceeds to the City of Vero Beach Recreation Department.
The fireworks show, scheduled to start at 9 p.m. at Riverside Park – weather permitting – will be the work of Zambelli Internationale. The show is expected to last 20 minutes.
Viewers are reminded to bring your chairs and blankets. Personal fireworks, alcoholic beverages and dogs are not permitted in the park.