ST. PETERSBURG – The Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association hosted their inaugural “Summer Sizzle” last month, sending the neighborhood kids back-to-school with a bang! The picnic was held at the adjacent Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Park, which was in part a by-product of former neighborhood association president Anne Drakeford.
Drakeford and other members of the board of directors thought it was too dangerous for children to have to cross busy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street South just to get to nearby Lake Maggiore Park. In an effort to ensure the safety of local youth, she and many others urged the City of St. Petersburg to establish a new park where the children of Lakewood Terrace could play without concern.
The Summer Sizzle was open to Lakewood Terrace residents and its neighboring communities.
“Our neighborhood is about being inclusive, not exclusive. We want our renters to be just as proud about living in this neighborhood as the homeowners are,” resident Edna Barnes emphasized.
About 40 neighbors participated in the community picnic, something the association hopes will turn into a yearly event. The end of the summer bash was sponsored by donations from residents and funds from the Mayor’s Mini Grant, which aims to engage residents, mobilize members, encourage resident interactions and build relationships.
“The best use of this money is to help each person, not just one block,” said Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association President Corey Givens, Jr.
Hamburgers and hot dogs sizzled on the grill, kids played happily in the inflatable jump house and the neighbors mingled amongst one another while playing a fun game of spades, all for free.
“Neighborhoods shouldn’t be burdened with finding solutions to problems where there’s a quick fix. We, as neighbors, should be dialoguing with each other about projects residents want to see in the near future. We owe it to our kids to find activities that will keep them out of trouble,” Givens, Jr. added.
Of course the 2016 Summer Sizzle would not have been complete if there were no special surprises for guests. The local fire station (#8) was on site to provide the kids with a hands-on tour of one of their newest trucks.
“One of the most special parts of the job is going out into the community and letting the young people see exactly what the job entails,” said Fireman Hendri Robinson.
Two-dozen kids and even a few senior residents had an opportunity to sit in the fire truck and try on some of the equipment.
Three Community Service Officers from the St. Petersburg Police Department stopped by at the request of Officer Meghan Rulison. Perhaps the most poignant moment of their visit was when the officers began helping the children assemble a field goal for a game of soccer.
The event concluded with the Lakewood Terrace board of directors distributing school supplies to students in attendance.
The neighborhood association, which has seen membership double over the past year, plans to establish a community garden, host a crime watch kick-off, and sponsor neighborhood cleanups, Givens, Jr said.
“We all want to work together to see that our neighborhood is just as good as any other neighborhood in the city.”
The Lakewood Terrace Neighborhood Association meets every third Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Coquina Key Clubhouse. Neighborhood Boundaries: 34th Ave. S to Bayou Blvd. S., between 6th & MLK St. S.