Looking for a playground? How about a recreation mecca? That would be an apt description of G.T. Bray park, which occupies a sprawling 140 acres between 51st Street West and 59th Street West, and is a treasure for Bradenton residents who lead an active lifestyle or just want to watch others play their games. Virtually any sport you wish to play is at your fingertips at G.T. Bray. Flag football? Yep. Youth and adult- league basketball? Absolutely. Swimming? Dive into Bray's Olympic-size swimming pool. The beautiful park has softball leagues for men and women. Bray even has a softball league for men nearing their 80s. It is also equipped with tennis soccer and co-ed volleyball and kickball leagues. If you want to toss horseshoes, Bray is the place for you. "There is something here for everyone," said Cindy Turner, Manatee County Parks and Rec director. Bray, 5502 33rd Ave. Dr. W., also offers bike trails, two dog parks, fitness rooms, an activity center and a picnic shelter with grills. G.T. Bray also hosts local middle and high school cross-country tournaments. The park is home to the Manatee High Hurricanes baseball, softball and tennis teams. The Manatee Wildcats, of the Pop Warner youth football organization, also call Bray home, as well as several youth baseball leagues. Many of the county's sports legends played at Bray at some point during their adolescent years. Lighted basketball courts, a playground, open tennis courts and a roller-hockey rink are amenities for parkgoers. G.T. Bray even has an amphitheater. "We are centrally located in Bradenton," Turner said. "This park has our administration building and activities center right on site. No other park in Manatee County can say that. This park has a lot of diversity. It's something all ages can enjoy."
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