If you haven’t been before, Sunday’s the Boating & Beach Bash for People with Disabilities. Everything from food to boat rides to live entertainment is free.
The 11th annual is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Spanish River Park, 3001 N. Ocean Blvd./A1A. The park is just south of the Spanish River Boulevard bridge. The outdoor event is designed as a spring break for people with disabilities, caregivers and their families, said executive director Jay Van Vechten.
Here’s what you’ll find if you go. And how to navigate the bash that drew 6,000 people throughout the day last year.
Parking for vehicles transporting people with disabilities has a clearly marked, separate entrance from A1A. That parking is close to activities. Volunteers will be there to assist. Parking for people who don’t have mobility issues is off the main park entrance.
People line up for free boat rides on the Intracoastal, the same as rides at any event. The lines move quickly until the next boat is filled. Rides last about a half-hour. Passengers wear life vests. The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and Boca Raton Marine Patrol stand by for safety. You’ll see volunteers grilling food for a free barbecue lunch for everyone who attends.
Mobi Mats are set up along the beach for wheelchair access. The YMCA’s point person for water safety Liz Schmidt will have a team to help take people in the ocean in floating wheelchairs and organize beach activities.
Here’s the lineup for the bash stage:
“America’s Got Talent’s” two-time finalist, singer Kechi Okwuchi returns. This will be her bash debut for country-and-western vocalist Ron Paige, a finalist on “The X-Factor.”
Jeremie “Phenom” Thomas, also known as the Wheelchair Rapper, will perform. Celia Cruz Award winner Natalia Sulca will sing the National Anthem and her most popular songs. Miami’s Lighthouse for the Blind Gospel Choir will sing.
For the first time, an open mic event will be held in the afternoon. Performers are asked to sign up for a time slot by sending an email. There’s also wheelchair yoga, a kids zone, pony and therapy dogs, supervised sports, exhibitors and resource vendors.
“Everyone knows somebody with a disability,” Lowell Van Vechten told the Federation of Boca Raton Homeowners Association Tuesday. She and her husband Jay took over the former picnic from the city in 2009 and expand it every year. “We want this to be held in other cities statewide and eventually nationally,” she said.