Junior Orange Bowl Festival ‘officially open’
The Junior Orange Bowl Committee (JOBC) welcomed the arrival of its 64th annual Junior Orange Bowl Youth Festival with a kickoff party on Tuesday evening, Sept. 18, in the Biltmore Hotel’s Alhambra Ballroom.
“We have a lot of exciting changes and enhancements,” said JOBC President Don Slesnick III. “There are 12 wonderful events, ending with the parade. We brought in 4,000 kids representing 75 different countries to participate.”
The ballroom was adorned with orange balloons as JOBC members, past presidents and chairs discussed upcoming festivities while enjoying hors d’oeuvres and drinks. The iconic Biltmore Hotel, a Gables landmark, served as the ideal location to officiate the arrival of one of the city’s most beloved events.
“We’re very happy to have the Biltmore host us here,” said Parade Chair Kathleen Slesnick Kauffman. “This is the kickoff to the busy part of the season. Now, the events will start happening.”
Mr. Slesnick was the first to speak at the event, honoring past presidents and members of the JOBC. JOB Executive Director Barbara Norland and Mayor Jim Cason and were among the night’s speakers.
A moment of silence honored the memory of Marge Hartnett, a longtime supporter of the Junior Orange Bowl and many other community organizations. Mrs. Hartnett passed away Aug. 30 at age 95.
The speeches concluded with Mr. Slesnick declaring the Junior Orange Bowl Festival “officially open.”
In May, the theme for this year’s parade was revealed: “Sailing to New Adventures,” marking the 500th anniversary of Ponce de Leon’s arrival in Florida.
“It really coincides with the mission of the Junior Orange Bowl because we’re always trying to inspire kids as they sail to their new adventure,” said Ms. Kauffman.
This year’s Junior Orange Bowl Parade will take place on Sunday, Dec. 30. Marching bands and vibrant floats will travel along the streets of downtown Coral Gables by Miracle Mile and Biltmore Way.
The Junior Orange Bowl Youth Festival first came to Coral Gables in 1948. Today, it is regarded by organizers as the largest international youth sports and arts festival in the world.
For more information, contact the Junior Orange Bowl Committee at 305-662-1210 or visit http://www.jrorangebowl.com.
Photos by Betty Alvarez / Events Photographer