ENGLEWOOD — The transformation is underway.
Englewood Beach Waterfest is already welcoming the arrival of Offshore Powerboat Association teams that will compete in its World Championships this Saturday and Sunday off Manasota Key.
Charlotte County announced it will close the parking lots today at the south end of Englewood Beach, and at Chadwick Park on Lemon Bay for the setup. The county will not be closing the north side of the public beach parking until Wednesday. The parking lots will be reopened to the public after the event on Monday.
The public will have two opportunities this week to meet and greet the teams up close and personal.
Fans can attend the open-to-the-public pre-race “Power Up” party where they can mingle with racing teams, OPA officials and organizers from 5-10 p.m. Thursday at Stump Pass Marina’s Lighthouse Grill, 260 Maryland Ave.
Organizers are also bringing back the Dearborn Street Block Party, set for 5-9 p.m. Friday along West Dearborn Street. A few blocks will be closed to traffic as racing teams display their power boats and meet with fans one-to-one. The festivities includes live music, food and other vendors all based around Pioneer Plaza, 349 W. Dearborn St.
Two-day tickets for adults are $20 in advance, $25 at the gate and can be purchased at englewoodbeachwaterfest.com" target="_blank">englewoodbeachwaterfest.com. Children 12 and under, accompanied by a ticket-holding adult are free. Tickets may also be purchased at the Englewood Chamber of Commerce, or at various restaurants and businesses in the Englewood area.
Now in its fifth year, as a tax-exempt nonprofit, Waterfest donates any profits to local charities and other nonprofits. Last year, $25,000 was distributed to various organizations.
Waterfest has no paid employees. There’s still time, Waterfest president Steve Gardiner said, for people to volunteer. Anyone wanting to may sign up online. Volunteers will receive their T-shirts and identification bracelets Wednesday.