VERO BEACH – It is hard to believe a whole decade has passed since Royal Palm Point opened.
Before the new Merrill Barber Bridge was built, drivers had to factor into their trips over the bridge an extra half hour, in case the drawbridge was up.
And it was up a lot.
It wasn’t very high, and with a steady stream of boat traffic, and the high masts of the sailboats floating through, motorists had time to meditate on the Indian River’s verdant beauty.
When the new bridge was built, the old drawbridge was demolished, leaving the merchants on the east side of Royal Palm Drive, who had previously reaped the benefits of being on a main thoroughfare, to figure out a way to keep people coming to their shops and businesses.
The result is the waterside park, where hundreds of dancers gathered last night, to frolic under the stars. Royal Palm Point has become a destination for visitors and Veroites alike, a place to shop, dine, romp in the fountain, and stroll along the river, amid lovely landscaping.
The celebration, sponsored by the City of Vero Beach, began earlier in the afternoon, with festivities including the Beachland Elementary School Chorus, the Vero Beach Recreation Department Gymnastic Team, and the Vero Beach High School Band. There was a bounce house for the kids, and other performers, including Jerry Chambers and the Dolls, and Old Barber Bridge. There were hot dogs and hamburgers and shaved ice.
As the sun dipped into the west, the grown ups came out to dance to two different bands. Revelers parked at Riverside Theater, where buses from the Senior Resource Center shuttled them to the party. A water taxi ferried guests from the municipal dock to Dockside Restaurant.
There were almost as many politicians out last night as stars. The current city council was there to pay tribute to the former city council members who presided over the conception and planning of Royal Palm Point, including Sandra Bowden, Tom White, Art Neuberger, John Capra, and Craig Fletcher.
No party would be complete without cake, and the one on hand was cut with much fanfare and distributed to the partiers.
While the grown ups took a break from dancing to the Rip Tides and Sha-Boom, the kids who were left participated in a Twist contest, overseen by radio personality Hamp Elliot. Macey Gioeli, 8, and her 11-year-old sister, Maia were the first and second place winners of the contests, and were awarded glamorous goody bags, courtesy of Mark’s on the Point.
At nine o’clock, tired dancers found their way to their cars, glancing once more at the galaxies, and by 9:25, Royal Palm Point was clean and quiet once again.