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Family-friendly Fourth: Old Main party includes food, music and face painting

BRADENTON — The Breton family of Palmetto spend every July 4 weekend sleeping in their 26-foot cabin cruiser, Fin & Tonic, at the Twin Dolphin Marina in downtown Bradenton.

One reason why is that it’s only a short walk from there to the Bradenton Fourth of July celebration, sponsored by the Old Main Merchants Association.

“We can go and have fun and not have to worry about parking or traffic,” Jamie Breton said.

On Sunday, the Bretons were among roughly 2,000 downtown strollers who listened to the music of Rye Road while inhaling the aroma of slow-cooked barbecue and watching children getting their faces painted.

“It’s the one time during the year I get to see all my old friends since I’m a stay-home mom,” said Breton, who watched her daughter, Brooke, 5, get a blue splash on her face.

Jamie Breton was Jamie Harris when she graduated from Manatee High in 1991. She married Kevin Breton, vice president of a soft ware firm.

“I love the music and I like that everyone gets together,” Breton added. “We also come downtown every third Thursday. There’s always something going on.”

Seeing all the children at Sunday’s celebration pleased Cork Miller.

Miller, co-owner with wife Susan of Cork’s Cigar Bar, became president of the Old Main Street Merchants Association this past autumn and is moving it in a new direction, he said.

“We felt we needed to change the image,” Miller said. “We want to bring new folks to downtown and we think the best way is to make our events more kid-friendly.”

Of the 12 vendors at the July 4 event, about a third were youth-oriented, including face and glitter painting and children’s books, Miller said.