Miami Shores

Miami Shores brings zip line, helicopter to Unity Day

A father and son go for a ride during the annual Unity Day festival in Miami Shores on March 2, 2013. The annual event, which features carnival rides, games, food for sale, a car show, and live music, will be held Saturday, March 7 at the village’s community center at 9825 Park Dr.
A father and son go for a ride during the annual Unity Day festival in Miami Shores on March 2, 2013. The annual event, which features carnival rides, games, food for sale, a car show, and live music, will be held Saturday, March 7 at the village’s community center at 9825 Park Dr. fOR THE MIAMI HERALD

The memory of Ed Brill’s oldest son the first time he slid down the inflatable yellow slide is crisp. Eddie Jr. had a big fat face with eyes like saucers. Eddie Jr. was 2. It was March 2001 and Unity Day in Miami Shores.

Brill vividly remembers his excited son cry “again!” when the two touched ground after they slid down the slide together for the first time. And the second and the 30th time, too.

“It was exhausting because he was too little to go by himself,” Brill said. “We would do it again and again until he would pass out. It was just joy.”

Eddie Jr. is 6 feet tall now. The memory is distant, but the slide still exists.

And that day and all the Unity Days since, Brill said, “without question, is the single greatest day of the entire year in Miami Shores.”

On Saturday, the much anticipated Unity Day — featuring bounce houses, slides, a rock wall, carnival rides and an obstacle course — will be held at the village’s community center at 9825 Park Dr.

It’s become a Miami Shores institution.

The five-hour festival will host 40 booths with local organizations, churches and schools filled with volunteers who will give out information and freebies. Local kids will be able to “Touch a Truck” with Miami Shores Public Works and climb into tractors, backhoes and a fire truck.

“That’s a huge rush, to see these firefighters,” Brill said. “It never disappoints.”

New to the festival this year will be a zip line and access to a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter.

There will also be performances by the Hurricane Jumpers, South Florida’s competitive rope-skipping and double-dutch team, along with ballet and karate demonstrations. The Miami Shores Police Department will also showcase their skills with K-9 and motorcycle presentations.

“It’s just a good old-fashioned picnic outside,” Mayor Herta Holly said. “It’s a wonderful place to see a lot of friends.”

Village department heads, including Village Manager Tom Benton and Village Clerk Barbara Estep, will be cooking hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob. Miami Shores Police Chief Kevin Lystad will be manning the barbecue pork station.

There will also be an antique car show, geared toward the visiting adult crowd, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“All the organizations in Miami Shores get together to have a nice day outside at the community center,” said Robert Bourne, a 15-year resident of Miami Shores whose realty company help supports the event. “It’s an event that reaches so many people.”

The event is supported by the village and Miami Shores Community Alliance and run by the recreation department. The cost to host the event — about $18,000 — is covered with local sponsorship, ticket and food sales.

“We get a really a good crowd every single year,” Brill said. “It just makes us grateful to be lucky enough to have stumbled into Miami Shores.”

If you go

What: Unity Day.

When: Saturday, March 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: 9825 Park Dr., Miami Shores.

Cost: Admission is free; wristbands for unlimited rides will be available for sale at the community center prior to the event for $10. The price increases to $12 at the event.

For more information: Call the Miami Shores Village Recreation Department at 305-758-8103.

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