ST. PETERSBURG — Nostalgia sells. Five hundred people have already bought VIP tickets to the farewell party at the Pier on Saturday. Hundreds more are estimated to turn out for the free event that will run from noon to sunset, around 8:15 p.m.
"It's not pro-Lens or anti-Lens. There are a lot of local and independent businesses there, and we wanted to have something that would be a really huge, proper send-off for them," said Ester Venouziou, director of LocalShops1, a coalition of independently owned businesses. "Hopefully, a lot of people will come and give them a boost."
Along with close to 20 Pier businesses, local artists will be selling their creations, several with pier-related art such as paintings and photos. So far, 17 artists are slated to set up inside and throughout the rear courtyard.
The day will also feature water ski shows, live music, a one-man circus and environmental exhibits. Starting at 6 p.m., those with VIP tickets will sample cocktails created for the commemoration and vote on their favorite.
As sunset draws near, guests are invited to raise a glass and make a personal toast to the Pier.
Daphne Taylor Street, 39, is one of those already signed up to make remarks. Decades ago, her father, Thomas Howard Street, painted a mural above the aquarium's glass tube depicting different visions of the Pier over the years.
"I remember really huge scaffolding that was built for him to climb up. I understand that murals were only meant to last for a time, and my father knew that at the time," Street said. "I'd love to have the chance to express how important this structure is to me and our community. I'm very excited to see what comes next."
For more information, go to localshops1.com.
Katherine Snow Smith can be contacted at (727) 893-8785 or firstname.lastname@example.org.