SEBASTIAN – Several hundred Sebastian area residents – and some from farther away – flocked to nearly three-dozen businesses along US 1, Sebastian Boulevard and other thoroughfares to get their fill of tasty food, watermelon sweets and family fun.
This year’s overall winner was The VNA of the Treasure Coast’s Sebastian Office, with their “Welcome to Melonville” setup.
Featuring watermelon bowling, watermelon seed growing and a dunk tank, the VNA office drew and kept large crowds of kids and adults alike.
“We kind of went crazy,” Hailey Ribeiro said. “We went way, way overboard.”
Ribeiro, and others with VNA, brainstormed various ways to incorporate fun with watermelons for this year’s Light Up Your Grill Night.
In the end, they decided to do everything they had thought of.
Nine-year-old Chloe Larabie and her brother, Lucas, 6, had fun bowling with watermelons.
“It feels like hard work,” Lucas said of having to hold the watermelon in a weird way to bowl it so it wouldn’t break.
“It’s squishy,” Chloe said. She said her bowling technique for the watermelon was “granny” style – rolling the watermelon through her legs.
Their mom, Roxy Larabie, said this was the family’s first time coming out to Light Up Your Grill Night, having missed out last year.
A couple doors down from VNA was Sandpiper Pest Control, which won second place for tastiest watermelon with their watermelon salsa.
“We like being part of the community,” said Joel Stout. “We’re happy to give them something back.”
His wife, Lori, decorated a watermelon as a baby in a cradle that sat as a centerpiece on their table outside their business.
“Keep Baby safe, call Sandpiper Pest Control,” read a sign next to Baby.
“I didn’t want to carve it,” Lori said, explaining that it was easier to dress up the watermelon than it would have been to carve.
Another of the evening’s winners, St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church took home first place for tastiest watermelon with their watermelon smoothies – which were about the first to go when the night got started.
“It’s been wonderful,” Deacon Lori Hoey said of the turnout, noting that they had more kids this time than the last two Light Up Your Grill Night events.
“We’re off the beaten trail,” she said.
Looking for the positive, traffic was higher due to the Barber Street construction, which has forced more drivers to the side roads and past the church on Clearmont Street.
Not every business offered up watermelon treats to entice the public.
Hidden Harbor Cards and Gifts had karaoke, drawing kids and adults alike to test out their vocal chords.
Storeowners Connie and David Spicer kicked the evening off singing out in front of their store, drawing a crowd of dancers in the parking lot.
“Now we’re having fun,” David said, adding that it was nice to draw people into the shop who have not yet seen it remodeled or know about everything they have to offer.
“We’re trying not to be just a card shop,” he said.
That’s part of the purpose behind the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Light Up Your Grill Night – a way to invite new customers in to find out what you have to offer and also say “thank you” to those customers who have supported you.
And the winners are…
Best Overall Watermelon Theme: The VNA of the Treasure Coast, Sebastian Office, with “Welcome to Melonville,” with watermelon bowling; watermelon seed growing and a dunk tank.
First Place: Southern Sisters Café, with their company logo, University of Florida alligator, and the Sisters portraits painted on to watermelons.
Second Place: RE/MAX Crown Realty, with their “Sebastian is living the dream watermelon style” setup.
Third Place: Sebastian River Medical Center, with their watermelon carved shark, bird, and sun.