Ziplining along Biscayne Bay. A waterskiing squirrel. A giant picnic blanket created by a world-renowned artist. A charity rocket blast-off. And more than 100+ ways to get involved in the community. Oh my! PhilanthroFest, the nation’s largest civic engagement festival, has plenty in store for this year’s “Carnival Of Dreams” on Apr. 11 at Museum Park in Downtown Miami. And you’re invited to take part in the action.
Written by Sandy Lindsey for Brickell Magazine
Each year, thousands of people are brought together for the greater good thanks to PhilanthroFest, an annual festival that connects people, passion and philanthropy in South Florida and beyond.
“This year’s festival will take the concept of giving to a whole new level with our carefully curated carnival theme,” says Estrellita S. Sibila, JD, LL.M., Executive Director & Co-Founder of PhilanthroFest. “We’re excited to have the community come out and get involved in causes they’re truly passionate about — we really want to encourage parents to start having a conversation with their kids about all the ways they can give back to causes they’re passionate about,” says Sibila. “It’s never too early to start thinking about giving back.”
The day-long festival aims to introduce children to philanthropy and inspire the next generation of giving through their “Giving Circle,” featuring interactive carnival games that allow children the opportunity to earn PhilanthroCoins to donate to the charity of their choice.
This year’s “Carnival Of Dreams” theme couldn’t have a more inspiring location, set on the 30-acre Museum Park centered between PAMM and American Airlines Arena, with the construction cranes of the new Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum Of Science adding visual flair and complementing the skyline and glistening waters of Biscayne Bay.
Packed into the park will be a Center Stage with special performances by participating non-profits; an exhilarating FUNville loaded with kid-friendly activities and rides; as well as a Field Of Dreams, Hero City, Education Stations and scattered rest stop areas where visitors can relax and recharge. Additionally, Art Village will feature talented local artists, painters, sculptors, jewelry designers, photographers, as well as many more creative minds who will have their offerings on display for seasoned art collectors and novice art aficionados alike.
The exciting new additions this year include a 100-ft. zipline along Biscayne Bay to keep the adrenaline pumping at the show and give visitors and participants excellent opportunities for photo opps throughout the day. There will also be water safety performances and “paw-signings” by Twiggy: The Waterskiing Squirrel of America’s Got Talent and Anchorman fame.
There will also be a 20-stop Scavenger Hunt sponsored by Yelp and a giant picnic blanket created by world-renowned artist Eugenio Espinoza entitled “Off The Grid” presented by PAMM in conjunction with their Free Second Saturday programming. In addition, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum Of Science will showcase a “Science Treehouse” complete with live science demonstrations as well as engaging hands-on activities with real scientists including a rocket launcher blast off.
“PhilanthroFest aims to showcase ways people of all ages can get involved in the community to help others — and have fun doing it.”
Aside from the fun activities planned, the most alluring aspect of the festival is the way it touches people’s lives. Alicia Consuegra, Board Member of Safespace Foundation, an organization dedicated to assisting domestic violence survivors and their families, provides an excellent example of just why PhilanthroFest is such an important resource for our community. As a result of their participation last year, she linked up with another local non-profit and one of the exhibiting artists to collaborate on mutual initiatives. “We’ve kept that bond throughout the past year, supporting each other’s causes, events and solidifying our friendships — that in itself made the day a huge success for us,” she says.
Marcia Anderson of South Florida CARES, a group dedicated to changing the futures of under-resourced children reports a truly impressive response as well. “Because of PhilanthroFest, we were able to increase our numbers from 40 mentors to 350 in one afternoon,” she says. And that’s what it’s really all about. “An event like PhilanthroFest connects people and fosters ideas while advancing an informed and engaged culture of giving,” says Matt Haggman, Miami Program Director for Knight Foundation.
Intrigued, but don’t have all day to explore? The Community Walks at the festival categorize participating causes into People & Education, Health & Wellness, Arts & Culture, Innovation & Entrepreneurship and City & Environment to allow attendees to readily find exactly what they’re looking for. “It always comes back to what your personal interests are, and what you’re truly passionate about,” says Sibila. “PhilanthroFest connects the community to causes that align with their passions and values so they can give, volunteer and engage in meaningful ways. It’s about creating the connections in all spheres of influence in the community and presenting them in way that all of Miami can enjoy.”
In the end, perhaps City Of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado sums it up best: “By supporting PhilanthroFest, you are supporting the building blocks that help stabilize our community.” Plus, you get to have a great time while you’re at it.
PhilanthroFest’s “Carnival of Dreams” is aptly named. The activities and entertainment are jam-packed into Museum Park. Wear comfortable shoes, lots of sunscreen and bring the whole family because you’re going to want to stay all day.
It’s Show Time
From mind-blowing magic shows to music acts, theatrical performances and dance routines, there’s entertainment for all ages, including a must-see pop-up of Pharrell’s Happy by the WOW Center.
Filled with interactive adventures, rides and games for the entire family, guests will bounce, soar, learn and unleash their creative spirit. Plus, there will be special appearances by Twiggy: The Waterskiing Squirrel.
A 100-ft. zipline along Biscayne Bay will allow riders to get a bird’s-eye view of the festivities throughout the day at Museum Park. Several community leaders and local celebrities will be on-site to take a ride.
The Patricia & Phillip Frost Museum Of Science will present a “Science Treehouse”
complete with live science demonstrations with real scientists including a rocket launcher blast off.
Yelp will be on-hand with a special 20-stop scavenger hunt that will allow visitors to navigate the festival while documenting their experiences via social media and photo opps for a chance to win big prizes.
A series of nostalgic carnival games will let kids earn PhilanthroCoins they can donate to the charity of their choice at the festival. The charities that receive the most coins will be awarded cash & prizes.
Real heroes don’t always wear capes, and many of our real-life hometown heroes from all 5 branches and local precincts will be on hand to give kids tours of police cruisers, firetrucks and military vehicles.