Our Neighborhoods | There's always something fun going on at Paradise Bay Estates

MANATEE -- It's a chilly Friday morning in Bradenton.

Maybe it's a good day for a swim in the heated pool, or perhaps hit the 10 a.m. water aerobics classes.

Or maybe you fancy a game of horseshoes? Or feel like taking on a woodwork project? Head down to the woodshop.

Sound appealing? Well, for residents at Paradise Bay Estates, this is what a typical day at home is like.

The 55-and-over mobile home park offers amenities, activities and a waterfront most residents consider to be the best around.

"We have the best waterfront, resident-owned R.V. park in the Florida," Board President Ted Adams said. "It is far better than others."

In addition to prime waterfront property on the banks of Sarasota Bay with views of Bradenton Beach, Paradise Bay Estates boasts more than 40 activity groups, including a golf league, shuffle board, bocce, card playing and art classes.

"I don't care where you go, there is always something going on," resident Gerry Es

tabrook said.

Richard and Gerry Estabrook are second-generation residents, having visited the area since the 1970s when her parents retired. They too fell in love with it.

"We had bought a home down here about two miles from the airport," she said.

Her parents, however, had offered them their home in Paradise Bay, too.

"We would have had to find our own friends," she said. "This has all the activities we want."

So in the end, their son ended up moving into the other home, and they settled happily into their retired years in Paradise Bay. Recently, their niece also moved into the park, making it three generations of their family that has lived in Paradise Bay.

The community has a unique history that goes back to its beginnings in the 1920s, when it was named Twin Isle Estates. At one time it was even the summer grounds for the Ringling family.

It changed ownership a couple times before landing in the hands of Howard and Maude Helms in 1954. It was Maude Helms who is said to have fallen in love with living there and decided to name the park "Paradise Bay Trailer Park."

The park remained in the family until 1994, when the residents organized and formed a not-for-profit co-op.

Today, the 64-acre park is home to hundreds of retirees. Paradise Bay Estates also owns the adjacent Sarasota Bay R.V. Park, which helps to generate revenue and keep association and club fees low.

Tray Stace is known as one of the youngsters by many of the other residents since he only moved into Paradise Bay four years ago.

"We tried the R.V. Park first," Satce said.

But after four years of that, he said he fell in love with life there.

"The greatest attraction to me is the pool," Stace said. "I enjoy just the location."

In addition to enough amenities to keep one occupied all day, every day, Stace also said he likes the park's location, which makes it easy to get anywhere in town or even in Florida in a short amount of time.

"The community's very water-oriented, whether it's boating, going to the beach or even fishing," Satce said.

For those residents who love getting out on the water, the community has more than 100 boat docks on the premises.

Residents become very close.

"The people that are here, we become family," Adams said. "We help one another, we are there for another."

The community is made up of a lot of snowbirds, with only 25 percent of the residents staying year-round.

"We love to see the snowbirds come down because that is our busy time," Richard Estabrook said.

"When the snowbirds go home, it's time to relax and work on projects."

While the season features a packed calendar of events and activities, the park also organizes pot-luck dinners and coffee hours, bringing everyone together.

Jessica De Leon, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.