In 1982, some creative souls in the environmental agency of what was then called Dade County organized a springtime celebration and coastal cleanup to highlight the ecological value of Biscayne Bay to the South Florida community. They called their brainchild Baynanza.
Through the years, Baynanza grew and grew. The 2013 edition – the 31st – includes more than 35 events in March and April, involves 29 public and private co-sponsors, and extends from the bay deep into the mainland to the Big Cypress National Preserve.
The calendar also includes various stand-alone events that are considered part of Baynanza, such as Fantasy Theater Factory performances with an environmental theme at the Miami-Dade County Fair & Expo, the Deering Seafood Festival, Miami Riverday, and Biscayne National Park’s Family Fun Fest.
The coastal cleanup is still a Baynanza highlight. From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 20, volunteers will gather at 23 separate sites from Oleta River State Park in North Miami to Homestead Bayfront Park to remove tons of trash from the shoreline and coastal islands.
Then all participants are invited to a 31st anniversary celebration featuring entertainment and exhibits at Haulover Beach Park, on State Road A1A between Sunny Isles Beach and Bal Harbour. Cleanup volunteers must register before March 29. Students can receive community service hours for participating.
A tidbit of Baynanza history
One event from Baynanza’s earliest days – a seafood cooking contest – has fallen by the wayside. In that era, I worked briefly as a commercial fisherman, and after one voyage I returned home with a huge cobia (a saltwater fish related to the perch family) that nobody wanted to buy.
I cleaned the cobia, and spouse Rosalie (Miami Food and Drink Examiner) cooked it. As initially served, it exceeded our family’s collective appetite, so Rosalie turned the leftovers into a delicious cobia salad. Later she reprised that recipe for the Baynanza cooking contest.
It won first prize in the salad category – a $50 gift certificate at Sundays on the Bay, a then-popular seafood restaurant along Crandon Boulevard in Key Biscayne. We spent it on a sumptuous Sunday brunch.
That brunch remains a fond memory – and so does the restaurant, which Hurricane Andrew washed away in 1992.
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