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BIGGER JOHN'S PASS PLANS PARTY

The shopping, dining mecca will celebrate Saturday.

No longer a sleepy fishing village, John's Pass Plaza & Boardwalk has a whole new look.

A grand opening will be held Saturday to reintroduce the beach destination. The celebration is the culmination of a three-year, $19-million project at 129th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard, at the southernmost end of Madeira Beach.

The expansion of the quaint historic area that rims John's Pass includes 40,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and a parking garage.

Early risers can start the day at 7 with breakfast at the Friendly Fisherman. Look for deals on clothes, jewelry and nautical-themed and handmade items.

Seafood reigns at this event, with a new fish market at Hubbard's Marina or cooked-to-order fare at several restaurants.

Kiwanians will serve hamburgers and hot dogs. A beer tent will be open so shoppers can take a break.

Kids can enjoy face painting, character appearances and more.

Bill Allan and Friends will perform at the Friendly Fisherman beginning at noon.

From 1 to 9 p.m., the main stage will come alive when Tom Gribbin and the Saltwater Band and the Mad Beach Band reunite, finishing with a jam that will include numerous local musicians that have played with the band over the years.

The merchants and the Old Salt Fishing Foundation have teamed up to raise money to put up a Florida Fishermen Lost at Sea Memorial for west-central Florida.

John's Pass has been a busy port for fishermen since 1848, when a hurricane cut the pass and sent many a fisherman to his doom.

The model for the proposed monument will be unveiled Saturday.

Activities and music are free. For more information, call 397-8764 or visit www.johnspassplaza.com.

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