The United States Coast Guard has been an instrumental player in the annual Bradenton Area River Regatta through the permitting process and on-site protection of the Manatee River waterway.
And now it will be a more visible participant.
The U.S. Coast Guard Air Command out of St. Petersburg will sweep over the Manatee River near the Green Bridge at approximately 5:45 p.m. Saturday to put on an action-packed search-and-rescue demonstration.
Mike Fetchko, ISM USA president and event organizer, says the demonstration “is a fantastic addition to the 2018 Bradenton Area River Regatta. For the cities and the county, it is a special way to salute the tremendous men and women of the USCG and see them up close in action.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Bradenton Herald
Preparations for the regatta were underway Wednesday as the Gondola Ferris Wheel on the Palmetto side began construction in anticipation of opening to the public on Friday and remaining open on Saturday throughout the regatta. The Ferris wheel costs $5 per person in an otherwise all-free event.
“The giant Gondola Wheel will be a great attraction for Palmetto activities and will enable us to showcase our fabulous Riverside Park area and the beautiful skyline of our two wonderful cities,” Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said.
The Ferris wheel is one of the largest of its kind in the country and can carry multiple family members in a single car 90 feet into the air overlooking the Manatee River. It opens at noon on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.
The Green Bridge, which will close to vehicular traffic at 4 a.m. Saturday, will remain open to pedestrian traffic throughout the day’s events, including the Zambelli International fireworks spectacular to close the day around 6:45 p.m. It is the first year the bridge will remain open to spectators for the fireworks show.
The bridge will be cleared after the fireworks so crews can work to get it back open to traffic.
Other bridge activities besides offering an up-close view to all the powerboat and jet ski racing activities include the high school drumline competition that begins at 5 p.m. Braden River, Bayshore, Manatee, Lakewood Ranch and Southeast high schools will meet at the center of the bridge to square off in a percussion performance for the inaugural “Battle of the Bridge” bragging rights.
Other road closures will include Old Main Street between Manatee Avenue West to Barcarrota Boulevard, Ninth Street West between Manatee Avenue West and the Green Bridge, and the westbound lane of Third Avenue West between Ninth Street West and First Street. In Palmetto, Riverside Drive between Eighth and Ninth avenues west will close for the duration of the event.
The day’s events kick off at 8 a.m. with the St. Stephen’s 5K Run, and the Hernando DeSoto Historical Society will host its annual Little Anglers Fishing Tourney on the Palmetto Pier beginning at 8:30 a.m.
Most of the land festivities start around 10 a.m. with musical acts beginning at 11 a.m. on both sides of the river. Boats and jet skis will begin taking to the water around 10 a.m. for practice runs, with qualifying runs at 11 a.m. for the powerboats. The jet ski demos and stunts as well as flyboarders begin their shows at 10 a.m.
For a full schedule of the 2018 Bradenton Area River Regatta, visit bradentonarearegatta.com.
All public parking is free and there will be charities operating and monitoring some public and private lots for a nominal donation. Parking maps in both cities are available at cityofbradenton.com.