As a lifelong Pittsburgh resident, I have had the pleasure of attending many exceptional regatta events. As a new resident of Longboat Key, I had high expectations when I learned that Mike Fetchko, president of ISM-USA, and his team had been working with Bradenton, Palmetto and Manatee County to bring a similar event to Bradenton.
I hoped it would be great; I was not disappointed.
The Green Bridge and shorelines were lined with smiling spectators. The water events, including the trick Jet Ski exhibition, the Jet Ski races and the incredible F2 powerboat races, were continuously entertaining and often breathtaking.
The streets were filled with happy people enjoying the family-friendly events of the day. The evening ended with a Zambelli fireworks display that rivals any I have seen -- and I have been blessed to see 50 years of the Zambelli artistry.
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Events of this magnitude take tremendous cooperation on the part of government agencies. Fire, police and emergency personnel must be fully prepared for potential issues. Government authorities responsible for automobile and river traffic must plan for and be prepared to move thousands of people through the affected areas. It takes magnificent leadership to pull off an event of this magnitude in a flawless manner.
Mike Fetchko and Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, deserve a round of applause for bringing this extraordinary inaugural event to life and seeing it through to a successful outcome. Hats off to these gentlemen, their staff and all those who had the willingness to step out and do something new on the beautiful waters that so many of us enjoy.
The goodwill and economic impact will continue long after the crowds have gone home and the trash hauled away. See you next year!