VENICE — Venice MainStreet and the Atlanta Braves held a Mardi Gras theme party Saturday to welcome back the team to the area as spring training gears up.

Pitchers and catchers reported to work Wednesday.

Before that, though, Venice hosted an evening on Miami Avenue.

Hundreds of area residents came out Saturday for the event, which featured Braves Manager Brian Snitker and the Grammy-award winning Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans.

The night included live music and contests.

“It was a blast,” Venice MainStreet’s Nick Sperry said. “Great turnout. All the merchants were happy; the patrons were super happy. They could not believe there was Grammy-winning band.”

Sperry estimated the attendance at about 4,000 — good for being a ticketed event, he said.

The Braves host the Baltimore Orioles at their first 2020 spring training game Feb. 22 at CoolToday Stadium in West Villages.

A study conducted in 2017 by Stantec, estimated the Atlanta Braves spring training will generate more than $1.7 billion in economic impact during the 30-year contract.

He said the Braves are bringing an energy to the region.

“It’s bringing a lot of revenue and a lot of excitement to all of Sarasota County, south county especially,” Sperry said.

North Port will do its part to welcome the Atlanta Braves from 1-4 p.m. Saturday with the help of two Braves alumni, Mike Bielecki and Michael Tucker.

The BIG Rally is designed to celebrate the first full spring training season in North Port. It’s at the City Center Front Green, 4970 City Hall Blvd.

North Port resident and “America’s Got Talent” alum Emanne Beasha will begin the event with a performance of the national anthem.

Bielecki and Tucker will be at the Braves tent signing autographs from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Doxie Dash, a race for dachshunds, will begin at 2:45 p.m.


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