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Back Bay Bash -- Inaugural all-day family festival to benefit the PADLS program and other local non-profits

November 12, 2015
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

An all-day family friendly music festival will be kicking off Saturday, Nov. 14, at Bootlegger's Waterfront BBQ. Hosted by the Florida Helps Foundation to raise funds to sustain and expand its PADLS program (Persons with Autism or Disabilities Learn Swim), and to support both the Tabarrini Foundation's Children's Music Outreach program and the Blue Crayonz, Inc. foundation, the inaugural Back Bay Bash is expected to attract thousands to the area that day.

"The Back Bay Bash is a 'Destination Festival,' intended to attract not only local Lee and neighboring county patrons, but also attendees from the Miami and Tampa areas and hopefully across the state," said Mike VonPlinsky, lead coordinator of the benefit, as well as the PADLS?program. "We aim to attract a significant number of weekend visitors to enjoy our event and take advantage of hotel discount packages, to visit and enjoy the wide range of activities, restaurants and retail shops that Fort Myers Beach and the neighboring areas in Lee County have to offer."

The inaugural Back Bay Bash is considered a "hybrid festival," catering to both families and the "music festival" crowd. A range of activities, attractions and other features will be offered for kids in the special Kidz Zone, including a special play and activities area for autistic and special needs children.

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Local Reggae group SOWFLO?headlines the inaugural Back Bay Bash benefit Saturday, taking place all day at Bootlegger’s Waterfront BBQ?to help raise awareness and funds for the local PADLS?program for autism, the Tabarrini Music Foundation and the My Autism Connection foundation. This is a family friendly event, with special Kidz Zone set up, and there’s no charge to attend, although wristbands are avilable that offer discounts. Photo from

"The Kidz Zone will feature a bounce house, face painting, magic shows, an arts and crafts area, a live mermaid, clowns, games and more and the Fort Myers Beach Fire Dept. will be stationed with their fire truck for kids to explore, as well as the Lee Co. Sheriff's Dept., with their squad cars," Mike said. "And, from Salty Sam's Marina, we'll have Pieces of Eight Pirate Boat rides, a kid's fishing dock, paddle board rides, a fashion show by LOKI fashion designer, photo booth, the Freedom Boat Club offering free boat rides to families that day, and other great activities."

Take a stroll down Awareness Alley, featuring several non-profit groups and companies who offer special items and services for those with autism and special needs. "We're hoping to have a bunch of families come to the event, and learn about these programs and services that are useful to them, which they may not yet know of. It's a unique part of the bash," Mike said. There will also be an array of vendors and merchants on site, as well.

Live music will reign from two event stages that day throughout the day the main stage up front, the bay stage along the waterfront. Look forward to Trop Rock music from Renee, High Tide and the Jeb Taylor Band during the day/afternoon, and come sundown, the benefit will transition to a more adult-oriented music festival environment, featuring the Reggae groups Jungle Boyz and SOWFLO.

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"Everything has been coming along very well, and we're looking forward to a great event for families of all ages," Mike said.

The event is free to attend, parking is $5, and wristbands are available for $3, which gets fest-goers excellent discounts on food and drinks in Bootleggers that day. VIP packages are also available, which offer up-front parking, event wristband, free beer and wine during the event, and other special goodies.

Back Bay Bash guests are also invited to partake in the silent auctions held throughout the day, as well as the raffles and 50/50s. And for those interested in making a gift donation for any of these offerings, email

As this is a benefit to help raise awareness and funds for three non-profits, the PADLS program, the Tabarrini Foundation's Children's Music Outreach and the My Autism Connection foundation, donations will be happily accepted throughout the festival.

Volunteers are welcome to help, and be sure to download the Back Bay Bash app at, which offers a full map, list of parking areas, sponsors, vendors, band links, Bootleggers BBQ?menu, donation site and more. For further information or to find out how you can help the cause, email



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