‘Art In Public Places’ Coming To Spanish River, Gumbo Limbo Entrance At Red Reef

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Three concrete tunnels leading to Spanish River Park Beach and the 6-foot-high paneled maintenance walls at the entrance to the Gumbo Limbo boardwalk are about to be transformed into works of art.

The Boca City Council unanimously approved adding murals to the wall surrounding the city’s maintenance area in the northeast corner of the parking lot in Red Reef Park and the pedestrian tunnels between Spanish River Park and the Beach.

The Council approved spending $20,000 in “seed money” to get the project off the ground.

It also delegated authorization to the city’s Art In Public Places Advisory Board to develop and administer these visual arts projects.

“Thank you. This is a real opportunity to spark the interest of young people,” said resident David Sergi of the council approving the project.

According to Friends of Gumbo Limbo President Michele Kurucz Peel, the hope is to do the art installation on the expansive Red Reef Park/Gumbo Limbo wall on Saturday, Oct. 20 – when Friends of Gumbo Limbo is planning a Gumbo Limbo Cook-off event.

Attendees at the event, which is tentatively slated for noon to 6 p.m., will be able to see up to 10 artists in action, starting and completing the wall that same day. The concept is similar to what has been done in Miami’s Wynwood district, Kurucz Peel said.

“The art will not be on our property,” she added [but approaching the Gumbo Limbo boardwalk].

Kurucz Peel said the idea of creating a special event featuring both gumbo cooking and limbo dancing came from an article she saw in the Palm Beach Post last year about a new cookbook by Lucy Buffet (Jimmy Buffet’s sister) called “Gumbo Love.”

“I realized we could show ‘love’ for our Gumbo [Gumbo Limbo Nature Center] through gumbo, and by throwing in some limbo dancing to make it complete. [The idea] has been percolating ever since,” she said.

Gumbo Limbo is actually a big tree with red bark, resembling a sun burned tourist, that can be found in the area of Red Reef Park and the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.

Kurucz Peel said the first step in planning the Gumbo Limbo Cook-off event was getting a waiver from the City of Boca to allow alcohol in a park, specifically the Red Reef West Pavilion. “That took some time, but City Council unanimously approved it earlier this year. Now we’re in the process of recruiting restaurants, judges, live bands, and a couple of food trucks. Funky Buddha has already agreed to donate the beer, and we’re working on some additional special features.

“This is definitely a first-time event, and we hope to attract people who support our mission of inspiring stewardship of our coastal and marine ecosystems through conservation, education and research,” she said.

Mayor Scott Singer joked about the upcoming Gumbo Limbo Cook-off, “Doing the limbo is hard enough; [let alone] eating boiling hot gumbo while doing it!”