The Bradenton Riverwalk is ready for its close-up.
The public will finally be able to explore the 1.5-mile long park that includes everything from an interactive splash fountain to a gallery of outdoor art.
The Riverwalk Grand Opening starts today in the Pavilion & Event Area.Opening celebration includes live music by State College of Florida, skateboarding, volleyball, tai chi, public art talks, and walking tours. Music and refreshments start at 4:30 p.m. with the ceremony at 5:15 p.m.
Starting at the west end where a new walkway runs under the Green Bridge, to the Manatee Memorial Hospital area on the east, here's what you will see in the $6.2 million park along the Manatee River:
DAY DOCK: Boaters can tie up and tour the Riverwalk or take a stroll over to the South Florida Museum or the many businesses along Old Main Street.
GREAT LAWN: The perfect place for relaxing adventures such as picnicking or river gazing.
TOWER PLAZA: The 30-foot-tall decorative tower surrounded by a paved circular pattern provides an open space ideal for festivities, special gatherings and people watching.
BOTANICAL WALK: Showcases our area's fabulous plants and flowers.
MOSAIC AMPHITHEATER: The existing amphitheater has been expanded to fit larger acts and seat 400 with Sycamore trees planted to provide shade for attendees.
PAVILION & EVENT AREA: This will be the site for large-crowd events like today's Grand Opening celebration, ArtSlam at the River (Nov. 10) and the Bradenton Blues Festival (Dec. 1.). The Pavilion includes a concession area and bathrooms as well as a shaded porch.
FAMILY FUN ZONE: Two playgrounds, one for children up to 5 years old and another for children ages 6-12, is where the young can play while parents relax on the shady benches nearby.
SPLASH PAD: Colorful interactive water fountain for children of all ages to cool off on hot summer days.
FIRST RESPONDERS' MEMORIAL: Honors the Manatee County men and women who have died in the line of duty.
FISHING PIER: This 300-foot-long pier is where anglers will find snook, redfish, trout and other native fish.
TIDAL DISCOVERY ZONE: The marsh, which changes at low and high tides, offers up-close observing of the ecosystem along the river's edge.
OUTDOOR LIVING ROOMS: Have it made in the shade on the lounge chairs and benches scattered throughout the waterfront area.
FLEX LAWN: The space for future health and wellness classes.
BEACH VOLLEYBALL COURTS: Sandy volleyball courts for pick-up games and tournaments.
SKATE PARK: Overlooking the Manatee River and spanning the area below the DeSoto Bridge, Riverwalk's most striking feature is being promoted as one of the best skate parks in the Tampa Bay region.
VETERANS MEMORIAL: Honors the men and women who have served our country.
REGATTA PLAZA: The destination spot for drum circles, it's also fine for kite-flying or watching the dragon boat races city officials hope to host.
KAYAK AND CANOE LAUNCH: Located near the Manatee Memorial Hospital for those who want to paddle along Riverwalk.
For a full list of Riverwalk events through Dec. 21 go to www.bradenton.com/arts. Information: 941-840-0013 or www.RealizeBradenton.com.
Wade Tatangelo, features writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057.