Detailed information offered to assist visitors and residents planning to attend Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival events this week

Sarasota Police Department will be enforcing regulations related to wildlife protection, ticketing illegally parked vehicles and authorizing towing

Entries in the big boat class chase victory during a Suncoast Powerboat Grand Prix event. Image from the Suncoast Powerboat Grand Prix website

The 35th Annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival, which began on June 29 and will conclude on July 7, is expected once again to attract thousands of people to the city of Sarasota, the Sarasota Police Department has pointed out.

As a result, the Police Department has announced a number of reminders to the public in an effort to ensure safety for both humans and wildlife.

Lido Beach holiday hours 
The Sarasota County Sea Turtle Protection Ordinance requires that all beach furniture and equipment be removed from the beach nightly, a Police Department news release explains. Pursuant to amended Sarasota City Code Section 22-4, Lido Key’s public beaches will be closed from 11 p.m. to approximately 6:30 a.m. to all beachgoers, race spectators and beach equipment during the Suncoast Powerboat Grand Prix Festival.

Further, the release points out, because of beach erosion, “spectators are being asked to stay off sand dunes along Lido Beach.”
Additionally, the Police Department will have signs posted announcing that beachgoers may not store or leave unattended personal property on Lido Beach.

Beach furniture, other types of beach equipment, toys and trash left on the beach overnight during marine turtle nesting season “can pose a serious entanglement hazard and obstacle for marine turtles and their hatchlings,” the release stresses.

Moreover, the Police Department “is conducting enhanced enforcement measures to ensure the conservation and protection of several threatened species of native wildlife of Lido Key,” the release points out. Police officers’ efforts are being complemented by the work of the nonprofit Mote Marine Laboratory, the release notes. Sea turtles, black skimmers, least terns and snowy plovers “all share Lido Beach and are protected under state and federal law,” the release says.

“Beachgoers should be aware of posted signage and fencing and stay away from marine turtle nests and seabird nesting zones. It is important to not enter any posted areas and to avoid any behaviors that may disturb the wildlife,” the release adds.

Disturbances “can cause the birds to leave their eggs and chicks unattended, making them vulnerable to predators and overheating,” the release says.

If members of the public observe any stranded, sick or injured marine turtles or mammals, they may contact Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program, 24-hour response program in Sarasota and Manatee counties, at 941-988-0212.

Race day information
Any race operations (including delays) will be announced on the race control frequency only, the release continues.

The Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix will be shown on Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/PowerboatP1WC.

Use of designated drivers encouraged 
TheAAA Tow to Go Program is being offered this week to make sure people celebrating the July Fourth holiday reach their destinations safely, the release adds.

The program makes available a free, confidential ride to a safe location within a 10-mile radius. The service will be in effect throughout Florida from July 3 until 6 a.m. on Friday, the release says. Call 1-855-TOW-2-GO (1-855-286-9246) or visit https://autoclubsouth.aaa.com/safety/tow_to_go.aspx.

Road closures and parking

A graphic presented to the Sarasota County Tourist Development Council in May 2018 provides information about the economic impact on Sarasota County of the Suncoast Powerboat Grand Prix festival. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Vehicles not removed by the posted time for a road closure will be towed at the owner’s expense, the release stresses.

For information on towed vehicles, the public may call Upman’s Towing at 941-364-7084

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall parking lots on Van Wezel Way from East End to 10th Streetwill beclosed from 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, until 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, the release says.  

The South Lido overflow parking lot will be closed from 10 p.m. Saturday, July 6, until 5 p.m., Sunday, July 7.

For the Downtown Block Party, which will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday, July 5, the following street closures will be in effect:

  • 1:30 p.m. to midnight on July 5 — Lemon Avenue will be closed from First Street to Main Street.
  • 3:30 to 10 p.m. on July 5 — Main Street will be closed from Orange Avenue to Gulfstream Avenue; Central Avenue will be closed from First Street to Main Street;Pineapple Avenue will be closed from First Street to Main Street;South Palm Avenue will be closed from Main Street to McAnsh Square; North Palm Avenue will be closed from Main Street to Alley Way; and First Street will be closed from Central Avenue to Pineapple Avenue.

Illegally parked vehicles will be subject to ticketing, the release emphasizes. Vehicles blocking private driveways also will be subject to towing.

“Anticipate long delays from the beach area at the conclusion of the races on Sunday,” the release continues. “Expect an exit time in excess of one hour when leaving the beach viewing area.”

Centennial Park Boat Ramp closures 
From 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, until 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, the boat ramp will be off limits to the public, the release continues.

This area will be utilized for the staging of the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix Festival, the release notes. The Police Department suggests the boat ramp in Ken Thompson Park, next to Mote Marine Laboratory on City Island, as an alternative.

New Pass closure 
New Pass will be closed west of the bridge on Sunday, July 7, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For additional information about the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix, visit www.sarasotapowerboatgrandprix.org.

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