Florida

Jeep lovers want to help pay for a park. A politician says that's not what girls want.

Palmetto's 17th Street Park is a gem with a lot of space, a large pavilion, playground equipment in good shape and a beautiful canopy providing cooling shade. There's an opportunity to do a lot more, however, and the city is moving forward in spending half-cent sales tax dollars to improve its parks system.
Palmetto's 17th Street Park is a gem with a lot of space, a large pavilion, playground equipment in good shape and a beautiful canopy providing cooling shade. There's an opportunity to do a lot more, however, and the city is moving forward in spending half-cent sales tax dollars to improve its parks system. Bradenton Herald

Palmetto City Commissioner Tambra Varnadore raised a concern about transforming a city park into a jeep-themed park because, "Little girls still dream of butterflies and rainbows."

At Monday's city commission meeting, Varnadore said she understands everyone has to be careful, "living in a gender neutral society, but I have concerns with this. Jeeps are not every girl's dream and the majority of girls don't want that."

Not all girls would agree with that.

The Tri-County Jeepers, a local jeep club with more than 100 members, many of whom are women, tossed out an idea to help the city pay for improvements at 17th Street Park about two blocks west of Eighth Avenue West. The club wants a place to hold a jeep show a couple of times a year and was looking to pay to add some jeep-themed amenities like toy jeeps for children to climb in and play.

Club member Steve Radius said it's only been an inquiry thus far and he is waiting to get an idea on costs before rallying other members behind the idea.

"We are always looking at different ways to give back to the community and this one was brought up," Radius said. "We saw an opportunity and wanted to explore it. We've been doing a toy drive for the last three or four years and part of owning a jeep and being in a club is looking for opportunities to help people."

Radius said comments like, "Girls don't like jeeps," probably wouldn't go over well with his female fellow members.

"The whole jeep culture in this day and age is that a jeep is like a canvas and you can make it feminine or masculine," he said. "One of our best jeeps is owned by a woman. It's pink with a black sash and everyone loves it."

Amanda Dilla was at the park with her three children Wednesday and agreed that it shouldn't be a gender issue, but it would be easily resolved with having both a blue and pink toy jeep.

"I think it's a great idea," Dilla said. "Kids love getting into toy cars and do fake driving. I don't think it matters to kids."

Dilla turned to her young daughter and asked if she would play in a toy jeep and the young girl didn't hesitate. "Yes," she said.

Radius said most kids will play with the big box a present comes in before the present itself.

"Kids have imaginations, and if you put the equipment out there, kids will want to play on it," he said. "I don't think you have to put one gender on it. That's a bit of a stereotype. Kids are creative and they'll figure out a way to get in the jeep and play."

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