By DALE MADISON
Of all the things that Krishan Manners, President and CEO of Wilton Manors Development Alliance (WMDA), finds striking about his adopted city, one of the most notable is that so many things to see and do are packed into such a small geographic space.
“You know the city is only two square miles, but we have so much going on,” says Manners. A roster of upcoming events proves out the truth of that remark. “First, we have ‘Wicked Wilton,’ presented by the Rainbow Business Coalition [RBC] and the City of Wilton Manors, which will be held on Wednesday, October 31 [Halloween], from 6 to 11 p.m. The bars and restaurants along the Drive, of course, will be staying open past that time. This year the city is paying for the street closure, and the event will more resemble the original ‘Wicked Manors,’” he notes, adding that “the event is entitled ‘Fairy Tales,’ and they are expecting over 10,000 revelers.”
Also just around the corner is the “Taste of the Island, which is slated for November 5 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Richardson Park,” Manners says, continuing down the list of must-do activities.
“This is the seventh annual event, and people can taste specialties from local restaurants, as well as mix and mingle with neighbors.” He notes with a smile (fully engaged now in local-booster-mode) that the deadline for restaurants to register is October 15.
“Tickets are $30 in advance, and $35 at the door,” he offers. “We keep some of the monies from ticket sales for seed money, and then the balance is split between the Kiwanis Club, the Historical Society of Wilton Manors, the Wilton Manors Library, and the Wilton Manors Development Alliance.” Manners helms an organization that was previously known to locals as Wilton Manors Main Street.
“We made the name change as a way of reaching out to more businesses off Wilton Drive,” he explains. The change was made to encompass a more citywide mandate. “We are currently working on funding in order to have a larger impact on the entire city,” Manners notes. “We are still working to make Wilton Drive a two-lane street, and to create angled-parking,” he adds, with real enthusiasm.
“For 2013, we are working in partnership with the City of Fort Lauderdale for ‘Full Sails,’ which would be similar to ‘Cows on Parade’ in Chicago.” Manners explains, “These sailboats are seven feet tall and five feet long. Local artists paint and decorate the boats, which are placed all around the city, but particularly on Wilton Drive.”
Manners says “Full Sails” represents a unique opportunity to highlight the Island City in a creative and striking way, which will draw attention—and revenue—to local commerce. “We need local sponsors to make this a huge success,” he says. “We want to see more art in Wilton Manors, and with this alliance we believe we will get there.” (Sponsorship for each boat is approximately $4,000. To learn more, visit fullsailsinfortlauderdale.com.)
Finishing our autumnal Tour de Wilton, the “Chairman of the Boosters” notes that “November 16 marks the first ‘Art Walk’ this year, to usher in ‘season.’ So you can see,” Manners adds with a smile, “there is a lot going on in the Island City.” To say the least.