Summertime fun might seem a far away thought, but for this one you need time to get your swan ready.
The fourth incarnation of “FlockFest” lands once again at Fort Lauderdale’s Sebastian Street Beach June 30. Founder Steven Crawford expects more than 2,000 people (and hundreds of swan floats) to take part in the emerging tradition.
The event consists of decorative and creative swan floats, which attendees take out on the beach and in the ocean while enjoying a variety of perks and activities.
Crawford has paired with a local nonprofit for the first time — the Renand Foundation. He said he has a personal connection to co-founders Renato Markus Silva and Andis Tamayo. The name “Renand” comes from the first three letters of Silva and Tamayo’s first names.
“I’ve known the founders for a while and have a personal relationship,” said Crawford, who is gay. “The entire board is gay and it’s gay-owned.”
The money raised for Renand, based in Fort Lauderdale, will help provide schooling for kids, jobs to families, family housing, and medical/dental services to villagers in Haiti. It’s all in an effort to keep kids from becoming restaveks — a term often used to describe a version of modern day slavery.
Renand also hosts a gay-friendly, family-friendly trip to Bassin Bleu, Haiti, to observe the work volunteers are doing for the community.
Participation in FlockFest is free, so Crawford said funds for Renand will be raised through the sale of “Hassle-Free” VIP tickets and through sponsorships.
Crawford said a $100 VIP ticket allows you to show up with your float and have it inflated, all while hanging out under a shady tent. You’ll get lots of swag as well, said Crawford — think t-shirt, bag, sunglasses, towel and beach chair.
Crawford moved to Fort Lauderdale from Dallas about five years ago. He quickly made a lot of friends and launched the first FlockFest a year after he arrived.
“It started off as a joke with a bunch of friends,” Crawford said. “I drove an inflator around to everyone’s home and then brought a U-Haul to take all the floats to the [Sebastian Street Beach] parking lot.”
In year one, there were 60 people and 30 floats; year two saw 125 people and 75 floats; and last year there were 500 people and 200 floats.
The event has become so popular that Crawford is taking the year off as an IT analyst to focus on the event. He’s brought in about 20 sponsors so far and the city of Fort Lauderdale has even shown interest — sending up drones last year to take pictures.
Crawford said businesses like the Casablanca Café, located at 3049 Alhambra Street, have always been supportive of FlockFest.
FlockFest runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. However, there are related events beginning June 28 (kick-off party at Georgie’s Alibi) and running through July 1 (dance at Flip Flops Dockside Eatery).
Crawford said those who don’t already have an inflatable swan on hand can buy one at To The Moon Marketplace in Wilton Manors.
For more information, including event and ticket options, go to flockfest.com. For more on the Renand Foundation, go to renand.org.