Alisa Grayson and Angela Riddle watched their grandchildren play in the sand Saturday, July 13. They weren’t at the beach, but they were at the fifth-annual Beach Bash with hundreds of others in Gainesville at the Lanier Olympic Park.
“It’s a family thing,” Grayson said. “It’s a beautiful day, even though it’s overcast. We’re not near a beach, so we wanted to come out and let the kids feel the sand, enjoy the sand. It’s a staycation.”
Grayson’s grandchildren, Chaniya Segar, 3, and Charles Segar Jr., 2, were playing in the 100 tons of sand that was trucked in for the event. They’ve never been to the beach, so they were getting a little taste of it at home in Gainesville.
Riddle, who lives in Lawrenceville, tries to come out to as many events in Gainesville as she can. She was happy to be there with her granddaughter, Aubrey Summerour, 5, for this year’s Beach Bash.
“Every time they have something out here she invites us and we bring the family out,” Riddle said.
Bringing the whole family to events like Beach Bash is the main goal. City spokeswoman, Nikki Perry, said they’re always trying to find ways to give families new opportunities to get out and enjoy what Gainesville has to offer.
“It’s quirky and it’s different,” Perry said of the event. “It’s summertime and everyone wants to go to the beach. They’re in that kind of mood anyway. This is fun, and it’s just kind of a quirky, different type of event.”
Even with the new location – past Beach Bash events were held on the downtown Gainesville square – Perry said people seemed to enjoy the event.
“From what I’ve been told, the crowd seems to grow and grow,” Perry said.
One of the perks of having the event at the Lanier Olympic Park is that all the sand will be taken across the street to replenish the beach area of Clarks Bridge Park.
More and more children played in the sand as the event went on and others waited in line for shaved ice, barbecue or drinks. There was a limbo competition as everyone waited for the concert to start.
Another crowd stood in line for the blow-up water slide.
Liliana Soto was there with her children, Jowell, 6, and Aydelyn, 4. They had already been down the slide a few times and were waiting for another turn.
Soto had just gotten off work and decided to take her children out for a little evening of fun.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever seen this, so I said, ‘Why not?’” Soto said. “They love the beach. They love anything that has to do with water.”
As she stood in line with Jowell and Aydelyn, she looked around, thankful for time with her children. She said events like Beach Bash are important, especially to working moms.
“It’s a free event where you don’t have to pay anything,” Soto said. “It’s somewhere safe where they can enjoy themselves and meet other kids. And for me too, so I can see my community and gather with them. I like it.”