7 Exciting ways to celebrate Independence Day weekend in West Palm Beach

7 Exciting ways to celebrate Independence Day weekend in West Palm Beach

It’s here! 4th on Flagler, and the City is pulling out all the stops over the long weekend that starts at BBQ Blues and Blues on Saturday, through 4th on Flagler on Wednesday.

“This year’s 4th on Flagler will be extra special, given that we are celebrating not only Independence Day but also the tremendous success of one of the City’s longest running and most iconic annual events,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “We invite everyone to join us for 4th on Flagler. The waterfront setting is the perfect place to celebrate, and– with vibrant live music, dynamic activities and games, and a phenomenal fireworks display– it’s a family-friendly event everyone can enjoy.”

Get all the details about 4th on Flagler here & the 5th Annual BBQ, Brews and Blues here

I’ve thrown in some pictures from previous years festivities. I hope you enjoy them!

1. Soul food & Brews

BBQ Blues & Blues – Rosemary Ave. 30th of June

Independence Day activities in West Palm Beach with the 5th annual BBQ, Brews & Blues event in the city’s Historic Northwest District on Saturday, June 30, 2018 from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The family-friendly event features the area’s best barbeque vendors along with a fantastic lineup of soulful blues on Rosemary Ave., just three blocks north of Clematis Street.

Guests can enjoy free samples of delicious southern soul food and craft beers by local vendors (while supplies last) at this savory event. Patrons should arrive early for this unique tasting of summer barbeque favorites including pulled pork sandwiches, BBQ ribs, BBQ chicken, fried pork chops, sweet potato pie, boiled peanuts, pickles and more. There will also be plenty of sweet treats for kids and adults including funnel cakes, deep fried Oreos, freeze cups and more. Patrons who would like to partake in the brew samples must be 21 years old and over, and must present their ID at the registration tent. Additionally, there will be plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained including basketball, soccer, carnival games, and more.

2. Blues Music Lineup

BBQ Blues & Blues – Rosemary Ave. 30th of June

Headlining the evening is the must-see modern blues sensation from Memphis, Ghost Town Blues Band. GTBB is not your grandpa’s blues band – their energetic live shows captivate audiences with their horns, harmonies and homegrown instruments.  Other musical favorites performing include the dynamic soul working man Slam Allen and the contemporary jazz of Catch the Groove.

3. JetRide Watercraft Stunt Show featuring Chris Anyzeski

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

As a throwback to three decades of memories, the City is including a water show in this year’s entertainment lineup. A nod to water ski shows from the very first 4th on Flagler events, the “JetRide Watercraft Stunt Show” will feature some of the world’s top watercraft athletes staging stunts above the water as they perform impressive personal watercraft maneuvers. For the grand finale, Chris Anyzeski, a professional personal watercraft freestyle athlete with more than 10 years of experience, will attempt to flip his personal watercraft 30 times in honor of 4th on Flagler’s 30th anniversary. After the show’s finale, JetRide, a personal watercraft rental company, will also award one lucky 4th on Flagler attendee with a complimentary year’s membership while they are onsite.

4. Military Salute

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

The event will salute the nation and honor its history with its annual Military Honor Ceremony, which includes a tribute to all branches of the military, presentation of the local Hometown Hero award and the unfurling of a five-story American flag. Music for the moving tribute will be provided by The Air National Guard Band of the South, a 45-member military music ensemble that supports the Air Force and Air National Guard’s mission by inspiring patriotism and fostering a deep appreciation of its rich history and legacy.

5. Fairy Tale Playhouses & FlaminGO Croquet

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

As part of the City’s overall “Summer in Paradise” (S.I.P.) campaign, which launched in early June in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County, the smallest of waterfront visitors are also encouraged to “be our guest” and participate in free imaginative play at the “Fairy Tale Playhouses.” The community art installation features 15 unique, outdoor playhouses, which have been painted by local artists and paired with nonprofit beneficiaries. The playhouses illustrate timeless fairy tales, with stories hailing from across the globe, including “Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox,” from North America; “The Boy and the Dragon,” from Canada; and “Rapunzel,” from Germany. In addition to fun, the child-size homes aim to educate about the need for affordable housing. Guests can also “sip” on additional campaign elements, including “StoryVille,” a create your own life-size fable activity; and “FlaminGO Croquet,” complete with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme and flamingo mallets.

6. Selfie with Mad Hatter Teacups

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

Photo ops and selfie spots are also a priority in this year’s “Summer in Paradise” lineup. The City brought back the “Big Storybook,” outlining all involved in the community activation and noting how each artist, fairy tale and nonprofit is paired. New this year are the “Mad Hatter Teacups,” which were once car tires that have been upcycled into cup and saucer sets spread on the Great Lawn, at 101 N. Clematis St.. The installation was inspired by the famous tea in “Alice in Wonderland”.

7. Music Lineup on 3 Stages

4th on Flagler – Wednesday at the Waterfront

Derek Mack Band  (Meyer Amphitheater) ☆ 5:00 p.m. The Derek Mack Band is one of South Florida’s premier show bands. A high-energy and versatile group of musicians, the band is known for performing music from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s 2000s and today.

The Air National Guard Band of the South  (Meyer Amphitheater) ☆ 6:30 p.m. The Air National Guard Band of the South supports the total Air Force and Air National Guard mission in war and peace by inspiring patriotism and fostering a deep appreciation of the rich history and legacy of the Air Force.

Liddy Clark (Discover the Palm Beaches Stage) ☆ 5:00 p.m. Liddy Clark is a singer/songwriter who forges a fresh, new path in country music with keep-it- real lyrics and trailblazing sonic landscapes. Her music is bold, blending a world-wide-open youthfulness and “ain’t-scared” attitude, topped-off with a definitive hallmark vocal that has led to more than 500,000 social media followers.

Andrew Morris (Discover the Palm Beaches Stage) ☆ 7:30 p.m. With a musical blend that can be attributed to Andrew Morris’ background and upbringing, The Andrew Morris Band is known for consistently converting music lovers to country fans.

Brass Knucklehead (Post Park Stage) ☆ 5:00 p.m. Complete with a trumpet and a trombone for full effect, Brass Knucklehead is a local neighborhood ska band. Known for playing ska classics, including favorites from 90s bands such as Reel Big Fish and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, the band is also known for putting a ska slant on crowd favorites. Revving it up at the Post Park Stage, guests are encouraged to stop by for some punk rock nostalgia.

The People Upstairs (Post Park Stage) ☆ 7:15 p.m. Funk. Reggae. Rock. The People Upstairs have been playing for more than a decade, reflecting chemistry and camaraderie amongst the band. The mixture of brotherly love, low-brow comedy and musical talent makes The People Upstairs more than a band – they are an act. They combine modern rock-funk with a groovy island touch and Latin rhythm to bridge barriers and broaden appeal, often described as Chili Peppers meets Sublime.

Palm Beach Tech’s Golden Palm Awards Celebrates Technology in the Palm Beaches

On Friday night approximately 200 tech luminaries gathered from Palm Beach County at West Palm Beach’s beautiful Waterfront Pavilion. The event was the First Annual Golden Palms award the organization that put all this together was West Palm Beaches very own Palm Beach Tech Association. The event was lead by Palm Beach Tech’s Co Chairs Cam Collins from DockMaster Software & David Bates from Gunster with Adam Steinhoff of Dedicated IT as the master of ceremonies.

Full house at the Waterfront Pavilion

Joe Russo the founder and executive director of Palm Beach Tech started out small. Standing in front of who’s who in technology, told the story of the first Startup Weekend in exact location. The Startup Weekend, which was organized by Nick Mohnacky and Chris Callahan of Startup Palm Beach, kicked off his vision to turn Palm Beach County into a technology hub of Florida.

I remember it well, we were on the same team and we built in 54 hours we developed, designed and marketed an called “The Yo App” (technical note: this was about a year before he more famous “Yo App” was created). The Startup Weekend process forces teams to get together, and not just develop technology but also to develop a business plan and determine that there is sufficient need for your product, before finally presenting it to the Judges. One of whom was West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.

Palm Beach Post Article on the first Startup Weekend – photo features Joe Russo and The Yo App team

The Yo App made it into top three of that year’s Startup Weekend projects, but more importantly it set off a chain of events that would lead to this night. Honoring people who have worked with Joe Russo and Palm Beach Tech to further propagate technology in Palm Beach County.

Honorees were divided into the following categories

Excellence – Awarded to those who have contributed exceptional efforts to build our tech industry

  • Mayor Jeri Muoio, Chris Roog, & The City of West Palm Beach
  • Chris Nielsen, Ryan Gay, & Levatas
  • Dan Cane & Modernizing Medicine
  • Rhys Williams & FAU Tech Runway
  • Christian Boniforti, Barbara Cambia, & Lynn University

Emerging Leadership – Awarded to emerging business & community leaders in our tech industry

  • Shay Berman, Founder & President @ Digital Resource
  • Yulia Konovnitsyna, Founder @ Straight Fwd Co
  • Sarah Nohe, UI / UX Lead @ Nebular Agency
  • John Calloway, President @ Halo Technologies
  • Greg Van Horn, Founder & CEO @ Launch Potato

Community Leadership – Awarded to those who have selflessly impacted our tech community

  • Aaron Wormus, CTO @ SmartX Advisory Services
  • Jeremy Lawson, Platforms Manager @ Arrow Digital
  • Damian Montero, Founder @ Moned
  • George Whitaker, Director of Engineering @ PGA
  • Gissela & Sean Biganski, Executives @ Hello Labs

Many forget that Palm Beach County was the original Silicon Valley. When IBM developed the first PC in Boca in 1967 and went over grow the workforce to 10,000 high-tech employees at their height during the 80s.

The fact is that technology drives so much of today’s industry. And I believe that Palm Beach County is uniquely qualified to be a new Technology Hub. The live-work-play qualities of a West Palm Beach and other down Palm Beach County downtown’s, make perfect environment for tech workers. The close proximity to Ft. Lauderdale & Miami as well as Brightline to connect them all. Palm Beach and access to potential to venture capital. Not to mention Florida’s tax-free status which is huge incentive for high-wage salary earners to relocate to the area.

The irony is that we already have so many of these pieces. But all of these individual components don’t add up to much unless you have an organization who is willing to connect all of these pieces. Connect the these individual companies and create the ecosystem for both technology leaders business Builders as well as a thriving opportunities for people who work in Tech.

This is exactly what Palm Beach Tech brings to the table. And if we’re interested in the growth of Palm Beach County it’s so important to support this and other technology focused organizations. Whether you’re a current resident, who wants to find a reason to get your kids to move back to the are after collage. Or you’re a event-producer looking for a younger crowd to market your events to. Or you work for the Convention center and are looking to host technology conferences. Or you’re in the food & dining industry and you want to serve the thousands of out-of-towners that come to the area for those tech conventions. Or you’re a real-estate developer looking to create a modern new downtown business district. Or a FinTech firm looking to hire the brightest developers to create the next big thing. Each of these industries benefit greatly from the work that Palm Beach Tech is doing.

But back to the event. As each of the honorees stepped up to accept their Golden Palm Awards they all told their stories of live and work in Palm Beach County. And then the event broke up to individual celebrations, official and unofficial after-parties.

I left the awards with a feeling of pride of what is being accomplished with Palm Beach Tech, as well as gratitude to Joe Russo and the Palm Beach Tech Association team all the work they have done over the last 5 years to bring us here.

David Bates, Cam Collins, Frank Barbato, Gabriel Goldstein, Alan Murphy, Michael Fowler, and Joe Russo – Board Members who Palm Beach Tech Association’s Award for Meritorious Service

Ribs, Ribs & More Ribs at WPB Firestation Rib Challenge

Firefighters from the nine West Palm Beach Fire Stations got together to challenge each other in the FIRST rib challenge. This epic challenge was hosted by The Butcher Shop, a 1920’s-era Airplane Hangar turned restaurant & beer garden, with a on-site butcher shop. The Butcher Shop is located at 209 6th St.

I was judging with T.A. Walker from Channel 5 and Reuben Dukes from AlphaMedia. I had the solemn duty to in partially judge all of these delicious ribs and I took my responsibilities seriously.

Watch T.A’s report.

Plate after plate of ribs and their associated came to the table and I judged from 1 to 10 on appearance, texture and taste. Knowing that I would never be able to eat a full 10 ribs and they were happy judge sized ribs I tried to just take a bite of each. But some were simply too good to not devour. 10 different sides going from the winning bacon on a stick two more traditional sides of beans coleslaw and mac and cheese.

The firefighters did not take this challenge lightly they all came up with their A-Game. But Firestation #9 took it to the next level bringing a mobile kitchen with where are they hand-torched each of the deliciously pepper glazed bacon sticks. Firestation #3 was fantastic with the meat falling right off the bones and I’ve got to say number two is my runner-up with their spicy rub and perfect smoke ring.

Big thanks to The Butcher Shop, my fellow Judges and most importantly all the Firefighters who work so hard every day.

Don’t miss Pairings 2018 – Food and Drink in Downtown WPB

Don’t miss Pairings 2018 – Food and Drink in Downtown WPB

The last Thursday of May only means one thing. Time to grab tickets to Pairings and wander through Downtown West Palm Beach enjoying delicious tastes of food and drink from all the participating restaurants.

This year the participating venues include some brand new restaurants (in bold): 123 Datura, Anzo (the new Chickpea), Banko Cantina, Bistro Ten Zero One, Broadstone City Center. Duffy’s Bar & Grill, ER Bradley’s, Field of Greens, Fitness Hub, Hookah Inn, Leila Restaurant, MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company, Palm Beach Dramaworks, Pipeline Poke Co., Pizza Girls, Residence Inn West Palm Beach, Run and Roll, West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault

Tickets are $25 but you’ve got to get them quick as the event sells out every year. Get your tickets here

West Palm Beach Mobility Plan & Mobility Fees

West Palm Beach Mobility Plan & Mobility Fees

You may have read my previous article on the Mobility Plan which outlines some of the highlights of the plan. This is a pretty technical issue, and I’ll admit that it took a while for me to wrap my head around the project. There is a lot of information going around about what the mobility plan is and what it isn’t. Some of it, according to the City, is simply wrong.

The West Palm Beach Downtown Mobility Plan is “framework of best practices that will guide the city’s decision making” a vision to “enhance how people and goods move through downtown”.  Possibly more importantly, this is the first step in a process the City of West Palm Beach is initiating that is focused on changing to whom impact and mobility fees are paid.

The Butcher Shop Beer Garden and Grill at 209 6th St.

The first time I heard about mobility and impact fees was when Jonathan Gladstone was building what is now the very cool Butcher Shop on 6th Street. Mr. Gladstone bought the former sea-plane hanger for $200,000 and worked for 2 years to find a tenant (Meat Market) and complete the build out. Before the County would grant a building permit they required the developer to pay an impact fee… of $164,000. This was a show-stopper.

The impact fee is a fee that the County charges new developments to pay for: Parks, Libraries, Public Buildings, Schools, Fire Rescue, Law Enforcement Patrol, and the big one Roads. The logic behind the impact fee is that it pays for the additional traffic that the new establishment will bring.

The county has a very specific fee schedule that covers every different building use and their estimation of how big an impact that use will have on traffic.

Schedule of what WPB businesses need to pay to the County for Roads as part of the Impact Fee.

It is clear that each of these uses will cause some additional traffic, but the argument the city made is that if the development is within the City of West Palm Beach, and specifically our high density downtown area they shouldn’t have to pay for County roads.

Jonathan Gladstone did his own traffic impact study and came to an agreement after negotiations with the County to open the Butcher Shop for a fee of $33,000. Another developer, Nader Salour who built the apartment complex Loftin Place which is directly adjacent to the Butcher Shop didn’t have the same luck and ended up paying $1.6 million to the County.

In a recent email from West Palm Beach City Commissioner, Paula Ryan explains the faults of the County’s Impact Fee system further.

“The County currently has $23 million dollars in the bank from our developments, and they anticipate collecting another 18 million by 2020. Currently, $19 million is going to be used for an expansion of Haverhill Road, and Florida Mango. Neither of these are in the City. We have lots of things that we need to fix. Crosswalks, sidewalks, walkways, and we have things we want, expansion of the trolley system, better road way turn outs for trolleys, bus stops etc. We cannot use any of the large fees developers pay to fix our own infrastructure. The Florida Legislature, in 2011, gave local governments the option to charge what is called a Mobility Fee that would allow us to use funds to make the above upgrades and improvements.”

The City of West Palm Beach set out to create a way that developers in West Palm Beach can, instead of paying the County for roads out West, can put their dollars to work to enhance mobility in West Palm Beach through a Mobility Fee.

Mobility Fees: How the plan can be funded

Nue Urban Concepts a explains the value of a mobility plan & mobility fees to a community.

“The enactment of Mobility Fees, based on an adopted Mobility Plan, provides a funding source that repurposes revenues away from funding road capacity to one that funds multi-modal improvements that encourages walking, jogging, bicycling, golf carts, car and bicycle sharing and new and emerging technology that provide personal mobility. Mobility Fees are intended to replace road impact fees that fund automobile capacity. A Mobility Fee allows a community to fund mobility and accessibility improvements and services that can reduced dependence on personal motor vehicles, enhance livability, increase tax revenues and attract economic development.”

Commissioner Ryan continues her email: “This is what the Mobility Plan does, it works to address all the States requirements for implementation of a fee. The real work now begins and continues into the future. We have identified just about every stretch of road in the Downtowns for areas of concern. We have estimated the amount of asphalt, trees, design, planning etc and estimated costs. The details of any plan will still need to come back before the City Commissioner, the stakeholders will be engaged, and a solution will be identified and a schedule will be established with a financial budget.”

To facilitate this, the City of West Palm Beach contracted Alta Planning + Design consultants to develop a Mobility Plan. The project was kicked off with a charrette to get local’s opinions on what the City can do to help solve the traffic issues on Okeechobee BLVD.

Locals working on ideas for fixing the Okeechobee corridor.

After months of work, the Mobility Plan was just released. The City Commission is voting to adopt the plan on Monday City Commission meeting.

Understandably, Palm Beach County is not a big fan of losing all that Impact Fee income that they are getting from their capital city. Various other groups have targeted this proposal. The Palm Beach Civic Association has targeted the Mobility Plan in this video which claims this proposal will “cause gridlock in West Palm Beach”. The folks at FixFlagler, concerned that this is a resurgence of “Flagler Shore” have also rallied their supporters to fight this proposal.

The concern is not completely unreasonable, as changes to Flagler which “Close one side of the median for walking and biking only. Convert the other side to two-way traffic with on-street parking” is identified as a “quick-build” project. Although the

Commissioner Ryan addresses the concerns that residents have over some of the projects that are being proposed: “We are not asking anyone to change their mode of travel. If you only drive, you will have better roads to drive on, if you walk, you will have safer sidewalks to walk on, it you ride the train, you will have access to the trolley to take you to your final destination. If you take the bus, you will have a bus shelter that is both clean, attractive and wifi connected. We want to make upgrade a strategy for each condition and the community will be engaged in the implementation of any strategy. Please support our efforts to establish a better community, safer streets and less congestion.”

The Mayor has also re-iterated that approving the mobility plan is not approving any specific projects. This is not about Flagler Shore and Flagler Shore is not on the agenda. To answer additional questions the City tweeted out the answers to any questions that you might have.

One of the key questions the city answers: Is the Mobility Plan a commitment to fund and build projects?

Answer: No. It is not an approval of projects, funding or fees. If the City were to move forward with individual projects or initiatives that are recommended in the study, the projects and initiatives would go individually before the City Commission for a vote at a later date with opportunities for public comment and input. The mobility plan outlines specific actions organized into short-, medium-, and long-term stepping stones that will guide the community toward achieving the type of city West Palm Beach wants to be.

So this is what I understand the choice the commissioners have on Monday. Do they choose to do nothing and continue to have investors in our city send their dollars to pay for larger roads and the sprawl that the County is creating out West. Or do we pass a Mobility Plan which will enable the city can use some of this money to solve problems that we have in our city, which will directly impact the investors, and most importantly the residents of the City of West Palm Beach?

Donate to help Suzanne recover from stabbing

Donate to help Suzanne recover from stabbing

Last month we had a tragic stabbing under the Royal Park bridge downtown. Thankfully Suzanne, the victim is recovering, but she needs our help.

Read Suzanne’s story as told by her friend Jill and donate through their GoFundMe.

Sunday, April 8th, was a beautiful morning and Suzanne did what she loves to do best on her day off; she walked her old dog and then rode her bicycle downtown to the waterfront, while her son went to Church.

Everything changed at 11.00 am when she was accosted under the Royal Park Bridge, pushed off her bike and attacked. A West Palm resident for 14 years, Suzanne was raised a tough, proud and independent New Yorker, daughter of a cop, and of Sicilian and German descent. She fought him off as best she could, screaming for help until she saw the look in his eyes as he stabbed her in the chest. As a single Mum thinking only what would become of her son if she died, she stopped screaming and said “Please don’t kill me.” At that moment he paused and then walked away. But she was critically wounded and bleeding profusely. She managed to call 911 and in twenty minutes was in the hospital having open heart surgery as the knife had entered her right atrium.

When I got the call from St. Mary’s, she was already in surgery but had asked that I tell her son what had happened. This was tough as he is her only child and disabled. She was kept in the trauma unit, unable to speak with a tube down her throat to help her breathe until the fluid in her lungs cleared up. Family members from out of town rushed to her bedside to comfort her and her son. She was discharged after a week in intensive care.

Now Suzanne is home, but still on unpaid leave from her demanding shift job, facing huge medical bills for the incredible life-saving treatment she received at St. Mary’s, only partly covered by insurance. Her progress is painful and steady but will be lengthy until the eight-inch scar down her sternum heals. Friends, co-workers and neighbors rallied round, offering support, bringing meals for them and doing errands.
To add insult to injury, after Suzanne got home, and filed her tax return she discovered that her identity had been stolen and now has to deal with the ensuing paperwork and further financial loss. But her attitude remains strong and defiant. She says she will continue to cycle when she is well enough and gets her bike back. The Police received hundreds of tips when this attack made the headlines and are still working diligently to identify, find and arrest the assailant who is still at large.
Suzanne needs the kindness of strangers as well as her friends to survive this. Her message to all is: Do not be afraid but be more alert and take self-defense classes.
So, all you joggers, cyclists and West Palm residents, friends and co-workers, please contribute whatever you can to help. You could be next.

Donate here!

Police have still not identified the suspect and are asking anyone with information to call West Palm Beach police at 561-822-1823 or 561-822-1782, or Crime Stoppers of Palm Beach County at 800-458-TIPS (8477).

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