VIRGINIA KEY, FLA. (WSVN) - In a bid to safeguard a cherished piece of South Florida’s past, dozens of seniors are embarking on a journey to preserve historical Virginia Key Beach.
On Friday morning, senior citizens from Miami Gardens Focal Point Senior Center arrived at the historic beach to talk about their personal stories, contributing to the preservation of the area’s rich heritage.
The celebration included music, dancing, toes in the sand and friends hand in hand.
“We want to pass our history to our children, to our grand, great grandchildren,” said visitor Carolyn Glover. “This is the historical colored beach, Virginia Key. This is the only place that we could ever go to do any kind of swimming, enjoy the water, the facilities.”
For Miami native Regina Neely, it had been 50 years since she last visited the beach she calls home.
“I am a native, I was born and raised here in Miami, and this was the beach that we could come to,” she said.
As the seniors seek to protect the cultural significance of the beach, local commissioners have already created the Virginia Key Master Plan to display the site’s future development.
Initiatives for the project include the restoration of the Marine Life Stadium and a museum commemorating the history of the county’s only historically designated beach for people of color. As part of the comprehensive plan, commissioners are also considering the construction of a boat ramp and trailer parking, which is anticipated to draw substantial crowds of visitors.
Among the primary motivations for these proposed developments is the desire to pay homage to the labor and contributions of workers of color who played an essential role in the construction and development of Miami.
As the prospect of new developments looms, a subset of residents and history advocates remains concerned about the potential impact on the area’s integrity. They passionately argue for preserving Virginia Key Beach in its current state, emphasizing the value of maintaining the beach’s natural and historical essence.
“We are here because we support what we have inherited over the years, and we want that heritage to continue, not for now but forever,” said a visitor.
“It’s a great place for families. This was a family-oriented kind of thing,” said another visitor, “so I think people need to stand up and say enough is enough.”
The convergence of seniors at Virginia Key Beach continues the conversation for upholding the area’s historical value and educating future generations about its significance.
“A place that we can come, but not only for the African Americans, for all people,” said Neely.
About 250 people visited the beach on Friday, enjoying one another’s company and sharing stories.
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