■ STAFF REPORT
Excitement is brewing as kids and captains alike prepare for the 2016 Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament this Saturday, June 4, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm in Boca Grande Pass. New this year, the Kids Classic makes a very special addition to the festivities for families who want to spend the day on the island.
The First Annual Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Interactive Art Festival will be held during the day before the tournament from noon to 5 p.m. on the grounds of the Boca Grande Lighthouse at Gasparilla Island State Park.
Sponsored by Englewood Bank & Trust and coordinated by artist Carroll Swayze, the Kids Interactive Art Festival will be packed with fun activities for the whole family all day. Ten professional artists will be on site with their work to exhibit and interact with the families while they help the children create beautiful artwork to take home with them. Complimentary hot dogs and drinks will be served all day, and there will be many other family-friendly activities, including a raffle drawing for an Apple iPad and a “Beats by Dr. Dre” headphone set just before the tournament begins.
“I can’t wait for Saturday,” said Swayze. “There’s nothing like helping kids make art. Their minds are so open, and their creativity is completely unbridled and free. The incredible ideas and concepts that they come up with for making art are inspiring, and it’s going to be so much fun! “My project is Gyotaku, Japanese fish printing, which is very apropos for the tournament atmosphere. We are going to paint on real mullet and print them on t-shirts to create some great art to wear.”
Other artists participating are Rich Fizer, glassblower, who will be making colored glass magnets; Mel Landon, painter, who will be creating painted coconut postcards; Maria Bone, painter, who will create sailboat & jellyfish greeting cards; Georgia Donnelly, doing a pottery demonstration; Leni Franz, painter, who will paint a mural; Greg Albritton, sculptor, who will be helping the kids make painted wooden fish; and Brody Fizer, who will be teaching Origami.
There will be an interactive music wall and a mural wall. Carroll Swayze will also be making newspaper hats. The 2016 Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament is an all catch-and-release tournament which promotes conservation at a fun event where kids have a chance to catch one of the toughest game fish in the ocean while helping other kids and their families when cancer touches their lives. Tournament entry fees go toward the Moffitt Cancer Center’s “Families First” program, which educates and provides support for children and their parents facing serious illness.
Children and artists will be creating art projects all day until 5 p.m., when the tournament festivities start. At 5:10 p.m. there will be a conservation message by Jim Cooper from the Lemon Bay Conservancy. At 5:12 p.m. the blessing of the event will take place. Immediately thereafter, the Lemon Bay High School ROTC will present the colors honoring our military servicemen and women, followed by the singing of the National Anthem. At 5:20 p.m. everyone will be saluting our troops and veterans with a flyover by the Charlotte County Warbirds Vintage Aircraft Club, and at 5:22 p.m. the raffle drawing for an Apple iPad and a “Beats by Dr. Dre” headphone set will be held. You must be present to win, so we hope that everyone will stay for the whole day. The Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament begins at 5:30 p.m., and fishing ends at 8:30 p.m. with the awards ceremony to follow on the grounds of the Boca Grande Community Center.
For more information about the Interactive Art Festival, call Carroll Swayze at (941) 266-6434. For more information about the Gasparilla Island Kids Classic Tarpon Tournament, call Gasparilla Outfitters at (941) 964-0907 or visit gasparillaislandkidsclassic.com.