This Good News Story written by Jamey Hitchcock is a Realize Bradenton production funded by the Knight Donor Advised Fund at the Manatee Community Foundation.
Bradenton is an accumulation of diverse people, enriched history and art, and engaging events that draw people together from all over.
Why we love this city Bradenton is enhanced by the cultural aspects of downtown and the work that the community engages in to continue to grow and beautify the area.
How it all began: Mike Kennedy, community development leader, worked in City Hall and was integral to the initiation of the Riverwalk which opened in 2012. He was the executive director of Bradenton’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
“Everyone realized what an incredible asset we had in our riverfront. Mayor Wayne Poston deserves credit for recognizing the opportunity for improving the riverfront and expanding it,” he said.
“With the teamwork of the mayor’s office, city council, and the DDA, Realize Bradenton connected people in the community, listened to their voices and lifted up those voices, and using the community’s input in the design of the Riverwalk,” he said.
What makes The Riverwalk unique is how the community played a role in the design and creation process. Kennedy spoke on Realize Bradenton’s role in civic engagement through listening sessions, face-to-face community sessions, and online surveys. Anything to ensure that what was being created would allow the community to love and be proud of this dynamic feature of Bradenton.
“Once they cut the ribbon at the opening ceremony, the community fell in love with the area right away,” Kennedy said. “The Riverwalk is my favorite place, because it’s the most diverse place in Bradenton. You can see diversity in all its forms, enjoying the space itself, but also seeing people have pride in this great asset of Bradenton. There are families using it, young couples, and residents staying active. It’s a place where the whole community can come together.”
Kennedy’s favorite place on The Riverwalk is the kid’s playground. His two children grew up playing there and every time he walks by, it brings back happy memories knowing that other families can enjoy the space as well.
“The Riverwalk has been an oasis right now, because it’s a great place for people to breathe and go outside. When the pandemic eventually passes, the area will be full of activity and smiling faces even more so than now.”
https://www.realizebradenton.com/riverwalk-features/ displays a highlight of features The Riverwalk has to offer. There is a walking/running path throughout each featured item, and a multitude of restaurants in the vicinity, including Mattison’s City Grille, Pier 22, Caddy’s, as well as numerous restaurants on Old Main Street.
This post is part of the Top 12 Reasons We Love This City series. Read more here.