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Optimist Club takes kids out for a day at sea

The annual Kids Day out event, organized by The Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Club, took kids on an instructional tour of Biscayne Bay to learn about plants, animals and other water and marine resources.

By Rodolfo Roman
Special to the Herald
Vandals didn’t dampen the spirits of local children who headed out for a day on the water.

More than 300 people boarded the Biscayne Lady yacht last weekend at the Bayside marina, 401 Biscayne Boulevard, for the annual Kids Day out event organized by The Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Club.

But the fun met some obstacles. The night before vandals broke one of the organization’s buses, which could carry about 60 people, at the Miami Springs recreational center. Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Club President Tony Silva said the group scrambled to find transportation.“Thankfully, parents volunteered to take their personal cars and transport the children,” he said. “We made it.”

Children from the YMCA Allapattah, Family Resource Centers of South Florida and other communities joined the expedition to embark on an “eco adventure” at sea.

Mater Academy student Luis Negron, 11, leaned on the yacht’s rail, while looking at the scenery. Luis was looking forward to his first boat ride.

“I am nervous,” said Luis, who was born in Puerto Rico. “I think this is so much fun.”Children from Miami-Dade and Broward counties accompanied by chaperones and volunteers set out from the marina and traveled aboard the 111-foot Biscayne Lady. They took an instructional tour of Biscayne Bay guided by the crew, learning about plants, animals and other water and marine resources. To tame their hunger, children were given sandwiches and refreshments from the Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Doral . The yacht was also donated by Biscayne Lady Yacht Charter, which typically rents it out for private parties.

The trip, which included cruising past expensive waterfront homes, lasted just over an hour.

Silva said the purpose of the trip was to bring a smile to children’s faces.

“If we can invite every kid for free, that’s what we want,” he said. “We would like to have the entire community involved.”

Some of the kids were orphans, or come from at-risk or low-income communities.

The club sent invitations to non-profit and community organizations, asking if they had children interested in attending the field trip.

Te Kids Day Out event kicks-off the season for the club’s largest fundraiser of the year, the Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist annual fishing tournament, the Dolphin Classic, which will be held on July 16. The Miami Springs/Virginia Gardens Optimist Club, located at 1101 Wren Ave., has been around for 50 years.

Virginia Gardens Councilman Richard Block said it was a great day for children.“The kids are astounded,” he said. “They are so happy and they don’t know what hit them.

Miami Springs Elementary student Augustine Cousin,, 10, was excited.

“I like it when I look outside,” said Augustine, as he took in the view. “I want to see animals.”

For information about The Virginia Gardens/Miami Springs Optimist Club call 305-345-1019.

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