Aqua Fest returns to Nautical Mile next week

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published July 10, 2015

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — Pirates, pancakes, pets and more will descend on the Nautical Mile when Aqua Fest returns July 17-19.


With a name that evokes a celebration of the water, events will be scattered along the Nautical Mile, with a wine and beer pub crawl and entertainment at local restaurants kicking off the event Friday night.


“We’re putting out a program, and it’s very detailed with all the times and places. It has a map. It will be at all businesses and aboard the trolley,” said Donna Flaherty, owner of Gifts Afloat and president of the Nautical Mile Merchants Association.


Aqua Fest will also see the return of a trolley running along the Nautical Mile. It will run from 6 p.m.-midnight July 17, 10 a.m.-midnight July 18 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. July 19.


“Because all our events are scattered around, we’ll be able to move the people around” with the trolley, Flaherty said.


She said there will be signs posted along the mile indicating trolley stops and schedules posted inside all Nautical Mile restaurants. Rides will be free, as the Tax Increment Finance Authority (TIFA) is paying for the trolley.


Flaherty said a trolley ran along the Nautical Mile 15 years ago, and she hopes it’s as popular now as it was then.


“I am very confident it is going to be so successful,” she said. “We need to have more activity on the mile, and that is the whole reason for this trolley.”


Festivities will begin again on July 18 with a 5K walk/run to benefit the Special Olympics of Macomb and a children’s fun run to Pirate Island, all starting from The Current Food and Libations, 24026 Jefferson Ave.


Registration begins at 8 a.m., and the run starts at 9 a.m. along Jefferson Avenue to Blossom Heath Park and back, said Jean Lambert, southeast field manager for the Special Olympics. The children’s run will go behind Island Harbor, where the Pirates of the Crew of the Forgiven are creating a Pirate’s Island with games like ring toss over the peg leg and Nerf sword fighting. There will also be pontoon boat rides on the canal.


Runners, walkers and children can sign up to participate at east sideracingcompany.com, and all the money raised will benefit the Special Olympics of Macomb.


The Pirate Island will be open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and there will also be a vendor show from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 18 and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. July 19 in the parking lot south of Jefferson Yacht Sales. There will also be a watermelon eating contest at Mastro’s Ice Cream at 2 p.m. and pet adoptions from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at Jefferson Yacht Club.


From 6:30-11:30 p.m., there will be a masquerade charity ball at Jefferson Yacht Club, which also benefits the Special Olympics. Tickets cost $40 at the door, and dinner will be served at 7 p.m. with a cash bar. “Thee Bluebeard” will perform, and there will also be sword fighters, jugglers, hoop dancers and a silent auction, said Patricia Mok, vice commodore of the Nautical Mile Yacht Club.


“Sunday, we have everything back on Jefferson, the vendors and roaming pirates and just have fun with it,” Mok said. “Pairing up with (the pirates), Captain Fishbone ... has been an absolute wonderful marriage of sorts because we complement each other very well.”


The last day of the festival, July 19, will include a pancake breakfast at Jefferson Yacht Club from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., pet adoptions from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the same location, and the return of the Ultimate Air Dog Show to the parking lot of Blossom Heath from noon-5 p.m.


“We had it last year, (and it was) extremely successful,” Flaherty said.


The competitions will be held at noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., and from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. in Wahby Park, there will be DJ music, children’s games and face painting.


For a complete list of activities and locations, look for St. Clair Shores Aqua Fest on the Nautical Mile on Facebook.

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