Based on Sunday's Picnic, Riverwalk gathering momentum

rdymond@bradenton.comMay 27, 2013 

BRADENTON -- The designers of downtown Bradenton's new Riverwalk envisioned it as an a outdoor gathering place.

Based on Realize Bradenton's day-long Pickin' Picnic, the concept is working.

Hundreds of music lovers arrived Sunday with picnic lunches, beach chairs and blankets to sit in the Riverwalk Pavilion or Mosaic Amphitheater and listen to local musicians.

The music began around 4 p.m. and lasted until about 10 p.m.

There were nurturing parents who brought children to the Family Fun Zone splash fountain to beat the heat.

Many action-focused teens came to skate in the Team Pain Skate Park.

Exercise-minded seniors double-timed on the sidewalk along the Manatee River.

There was even a BMXer from Myakka City practicing his bicycle moves at the Skate Park.

"Everyone has something to do," said Tina Haefele, marketing and promotion manger for Suncoast Food Trucks, which brought seven food and ice cream trucks to the event.

"Realize Bradenton wanted Pickin' Picnic to be a showcase for the whole Riverwalk," Haefele said.

Sean Lamberger and Autumn Musick of Bradenton brought twins, Bruce and Charlie, 17 months.

"We come to Riverwalk nearly every day because there's tons of stuff for kids of all ages to do," Musick said. "The water park is good when it is hot."

"There's lots of room for them to run," Lamberger said, in an apparent reference to the Great Lawn.

Zoe Spalding, who divides her time between a home in Bradenton and one in Canada, came with her son Hunter, 3 1/2.

"We had no idea there was an event

today," Zoe Spalding said. "We came to play on the splash pad."

A short distance away, Hunter Highsmith, 14,a Haile Middle School student with seven years skating experience, was dropped off by his aunt for a day of sharpening his skateboarding moves.

"It's called a 'Blunt To Fakie,' " Hunter said of the move he had perfected and demonstrated with precision.

As Hunter practiced, Joe Higgins, the Myakka City BMXer, made his red BMX bike dance on the high walls of the Skate Park.

"This park has a nice variety," Higgins said. "It's long and skinny."

He comes from a BMX family.

Joe Higgins is ranked No. 3 in Florida by USA BMX third in all age groups on an 24-inch BMX bike or "cruiser,"

Higgins' mother, Tammy, 48, won a championship this year in her age group, 46-51.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 6686.

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