Need to know which way to the bathroom? Hollywood has ambassadors on hand to point the way

06/09/2013 4:27 PM

06/09/2013 4:28 PM

If you have a bright smile, don’t mind answering questions from tourists, and look good in bright gold, then Hollywood is looking for you.

The pay: a great view.

The city is in the midst of hiring at least 25 “Broadwalk Ambassadors” to walk up and down the two-mile stretch to greet people and help them have a good time.

“We want Hollywood to be as friendly as Disney World,” said Hollywood Commissioner Patricia Asseff, who is already one of the volunteer ambassadors. “We want people to feel welcome.”

On Sunday, a group of ambassadors were already in place, ready to make newcomers feel welcome.

It didn’t take long for a group of tourists from Houston to spot volunteer Frank De Risi’s gold shirt and ask him where they could find souvenir shops.

“We saw the bright shirts and figured they were there to help,” said Tami Chastain, who was in town for a conference. She said it was a great sight to see on the beach.

“Otherwise, we’d probably be walking in the wrong direction,” she said.

De Risi, vice president of the Hollywood Beach Civic Association, said while it is easy for people to spot him, he can usually pick out the people who need directions.

“They kind of stop and look around and you know they need help,” he said.

The Broadwalk Information Ambassador Program began as a community service project of the Greater Hollywood Chamber of Commerce Leadership Hollywood Class XXXVII, a program to learn how the city runs.

The group teamed up with the Hollywood Beach Civic Association , which has tried before to get some sort volunteer program going, and Hollywood’s Community Redevelopment Agency.

Since the program is just starting out, co-chairman Scott Rivelli said they are trying to see what works best and how they can help visitors and locals.

The ambassadors are there to offer guidance and not really act as enforcers, although they may have to point out that walking a dog on the Broadwalk is a violation of city code.

Volunteer ambassadors must be 16 or older, and able to navigate the Broadwalk and solve problems. The are needed on the weekends; shifts are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or noon to 4 p.m.

Before volunteers are sent out, they undergo an hour-long training. The next class is 2 p.m. June 20 at Charnow Park Community Center, 300 Connecticut St.

Their job is simple, said Rivelli: “We want to make people feel comfortable.”

Most of the time, the ambassadors take pictures of the tourists, with the ocean serving as the backdrop. But there’s one question that comes up all the time:

“Where are the public restrooms?” Rivelli said.

Join the Discussion

Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service