By Christopher J. Russo, Former City Manager
(Thursday, August 31, 2017) – The slogan adopted by the founders of Sunny Isles Beach, originally appearing under the City Seal, was “The City of Sun and Sea.’ Well, on the weekend of June 16, the ‘Sun and Sea’ cooperated against all odds for a wonderful 20th Anniversary celebration of the incorporation of the City of Sunny Isles Beach.
The weather predictions were ominous at best, and we had three great events scheduled for the weekend, with a delegation visiting for the first time from our newest Sister City, Punta del Este, Uruguay. The delegation from our first Sister City from South America, led by Mayor Andres Jafif, participated in all events the entire weekend.
Friday night kicked off the weekend with La Hora Loca in Heritage Park. This outdoor nightclub event gave our adult residents a night out without the kids where they could meet and connect over art, music, and food. The band Fusion combined high-energy lights and sound with special acts including La Hora Loca, a group of Carnival style costumed entertainers, to close the show. Food trucks brought their self contained gourmet feasts of great variety.
A special feature of this event, in honor or our guests from Punta del Este, was the internationally known speed painter Salvatore, who dramatically painted a landscape of the Sunny Isles Beach skyline as a gift to our guests. This was accomplished in less than 30 minutes while dancing and entertaining the audience. When the painting was completed, Mayor Scholl presented it to Mayor Jafif, recognizing our new partnership. It was a heart-felt gift recognizing the many similarities of our two communities. More than 1,000 people attended this event.
Saturday’s traditional barbecue in Town Center Park was a very enjoyable event for all with the extra space utilized in the former skate park area. Moving more of the rides and inflatables to that area meant less crowded lines to wait in, which makes for both happy children and even happier parents. This left more time for dancing to the live band, playing bingo, picture taking and enjoying the breezy, and thankfully sunny, south Florida day. The afternoon was topped off with a gathering of both former and current elected officials as well as our newly formed Sister City delegation to cut the official 20th Anniversary cake.
To add to the festivities, we capped off the 20th Anniversary celebration with a fabulous concert and fireworks in our newly renovated Samson Oceanfront Park on Saturday night. Again, ‘Mother Nature’ cooperated with calm seas for the barge carrying the fireworks after a rough week of high waves and rip currents.
Although it was a desire for local control and a better tax base that led to the creation of our City 20 years ago, it is excellent services that are responsible for our success. A tremendous word of thanks must go out to our Police Department for always making the safety of our events and residents a top priority, and to the team within the Cultural and Community Services Department, whose creative energy and imagination have led the growth in programming and services, which characterize our City and our identity.
City residents came out in great numbers. Families enjoyed the music, barbecue, games and rides, the cake, and the spectacular fireworks on the beach. If you missed these events and would like to see them or relive the fun, please visit our online photo gallery. You can also visit our new History page at sibfl.net/history or view the 20th Anniversary History Video to learn more about our beginning and all the progress we have achieved.
What a great time to be living in Sunny Isles Beach!