Autumn in the Park delivers artistic variety under oaks in Vero Beach

VERO BEACH – Nestled under the branches and moss of the oaks in Riverside Park of Vero Beach vendor after vendor presents artisan soaps, jewelry, wood carved fish and a myriad of other wares as part of the 23rd annual Treasure Coast Pilot Club’s Autumn in the Park event.

Several thousand visitors are expected to pour through the park during the two-day event, which wraps up today at 4 p.m. “We don’t have a gatekeeper,” said Treasure Coast Pilot Club member Joann Buffington, who estimated Saturday’s crowd at a few thousand-plus.

She and other members said they’ve overheard several shoppers say they were looking Saturday and planning to come back Sunday to buy.

“There’s a lot of variety,” Phyllis Lembo said, of the artwork available.

Last year had a focus on jewelry, according to Treasure Coast Pilot Club members. This year, an effort was made to balance the different artists and craftsmen – including clothing, photography, lawn ornaments, accessories, plants, soaps and more.

“We all bought hats,” said Vero Beach resident Sue Hamel, who had come to Autumn in the Park with a few friends, including her neighbor, Karen Creswell.

“It’s a nice variety,” Creswell said.

In the few hours they had been at the park Saturday, Creswell had gotten a jumpstart on her Christmas shopping.

Creswell said she picked up a large painted tile as a present for someone.

“It’s new for me,” she said of getting an early start to holiday shopping.

Hamel said she was still trying to get through all the booths and that it was nice to find so many different items in one place.

While the emphasis this year may have been on balancing the types of items available, one thing remains constant from year to year – the Treasure Coast Pilot Club’s commitment to Alzheimer’s causes.

One such cause is the club’s financial support for the Alzheimer and Parkinson Association’s Project Lifesaver.

“We are totally indebted to the Treasure Coast Pilot Club,” said association representative Mary Orticelli. “They’ just been wonderful.”

The Autumn in the Park Craft and Artwork Show serves as a fundraiser for the Pilot Club, which then funnels its proceeds into civic activities.

Orticelli explained that Project Lifesaver is a program that provides tracking bracelets to people who have brain-related disorders.

If that person wanders off or goes missing, the Sheriff’s Office can use equipment to scan for the bracelet and locate the person.

Orticelli said that statistics show that people with the bracelet are often found within 15 to 20 minutes of being reported missing.

“They have been our angels,” Orticelli said of the Treasure Coast Pilot Club’s support.

Autumn in the Park will begin anew at 9 a.m. in Riverside Park, Vero Beach, with free admission and parking.

A food court in the center of the park will offer cold drinks and hot food along with icy treats to cool off in the heat of the day.

A children’s area has been set up to offer kids the opportunity to create their own masterpieces and crafts.

The Indian River County Bloodmobile is also expected to be at the event, though parked in the main parking lot near the Vero Beach Museum of Art.

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