Italian revives city's Irish St. Patrick's Day Celebration
Last Years News in the Paper
By Kim Hackett
Published: Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 2:22 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, March 15, 2008 at 2:22 a.m.
VENICE - Italian crooner Bruno Mollica hopes the luck of the Irish is with him today for the return of the Venice St. Patrick's Day parade.
ST. PATRICK'S DAY
LAST YEAR's NEWS RELEASE
Parade: 9:30 a.m. on Venice Avenue, turning south on Nokomis Avenue, finishing at Milan Avenue.
Gazebo Music Festival: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Centennial Park, featuring The Country Time Singers, local singer-song writer Jamie Garza
and 21 performers and bands.
Downtown Sidewalk Sale:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Venice Beach Party: 6 to 9 p.m., Venice Beach pavilion, Bruno & The Venice Beach Singers.
After a three-decade run in Venice, there were no green floats last year after host Tom Carney, owner of T.J. Carney's, pulled his sponsorship of the parade. It was only the third time the city was without a St. Patrick's Day parade, once said to draw the largest crowd of any such parade south of Savannah, Ga.
Mollica and a few groups put together an impromptu festival in Centennial Park.
But this year, Mollica had time to organize the parade along with a daylong music festival in Centennial Park and then at the Venice Beach pavilion.
"I always wanted to be in a parade," said Mollica, known as the singing DJ, who performs throughout the area.
Mollica, 51, will drive the original 1968 Shelby Cobra he bought as a young man, joined by about 15 organizations, including the Venice lifeguard team and the Worldwide Headquarters of Yoga. The Venice Municipal Mobile Home Parks Bicycle Brigade will ride their bikes and the Drake Irish School of Dance will jig through the parade, which starts at 9:30 a.m. on Venice Avenue.
After the last float has passed, a concert will begin in Centennial Park with the Country Time Singers, singer-songwriter Jamie Garza, and 22 other acts.
Downtown merchants will have a sidewalk sale.
"We are a community with the store owners," Mollica said.
Merchants have complained to the City Council that special events hurt their business because customers cannot find a place to park.
"My system is to open the streets immediately so we can get the best of both worlds," Mollica said.
In the evening, there will be a Venice beach party at the pavilion with food from Caribbean Sno-ball, the vendor who took over the concessions last year. The party features Mollica's Bruno & The Venice Beach Singers, who perform there every Saturday night.
His music ranges from Jimmy Buffett to Frank Sinatra. Some songs he sings; for others he plays the original version -- thus the "Singing DJ" moniker.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Mollica moved to Venice in 2000 after spending years performing throughout the state.
After a performance at Bay Indies, he wandered down to the Gulf and "fell in love with the beach."
"I believe it's the greatest little city in Florida," said Mollica, who now promotes local events.
This story appeared in print on page BV1
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Click to view more photos and press coverage of last year's festivities