Free Bradenton trolley rides spice seafood fest

jdeleon@bradenton.comApril 3, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Downtown Bradenton will be hustling and bustling Saturday with a trial trolley service run meandering through downtown streets allowing people to jump to and from the DeSoto Seafood Festival and the Village of the Arts monthly art walk.

Realize Bradenton and the Downtown Development Authority teamed with Manatee County Area Transit to provide a free downtown trolley from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday in a loop from the parking garage between Sixth Avenue West and Eighth Avenue West to the corner of Third Avenue and Old Main Street and to the corner of the Ninth Av

enue West and 12th Street West. The Seafood Festival will run from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.

"What we are trying to do is test how this works to connect the Riverwalk, the Seafood festival and Village of the Arts," said Realize Bradenton Executive Director Johnette Isham.

The DeSoto Heritage Seafood Festival weekend, which draws at least 10,000 people downtown, is a good opportunity to test a trolley service, she said.

"It's going to make better use of the parking lots," Isham said. "People love hopping on and off trolleys."

Realize Bradenton and the DDA want to connect different areas such as the Riverwalk, Village of the Arts and McKechnie Field to feed the downtown area's growth. The economic development groups and merchants think some sort of trolley or bus circulating downtown would do that.

"Connectivity between organizations and connectivity between areas," Isham said. "We know in the next year we need to find a resolution."

Gallery owners in the Village of Arts are excited about the trolley trial.

"I think it's great. We've been trying to get a trolley for years and years," said Christine Turner, co-owner of The Baobab Tree Gallery. "I hope it works. I hope a lot of people ride it."

The Baobab Tree Gallery, open Fridays and Saturdays, participates in the monthly Art Walks Friday nights and Saturdays. This month's theme is Garden Walk since so many gardens bloom in April.

"A lot of those big events pull people away from the village, but having a way to bring those people back and forth will hopefully help bring people to the village," Turner said.

The Downtown Bradenton Farmer's Market will move this Saturday only to 12th Street West between 10th Avenue West and 12th Avenue West to make way for the seafood fest.

Jessica De Leon, Herald Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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