The sun sneaked through the clouds as rain drizzled last Thursday. It was opening day of Florida's stone crab season.
Preparations began weeks ago when local fishermen along the coast were allowed to drop their pots. But it wasn't until Friday at 12:01 that they were allowed to collect. The creatures made their debut in Coconut Grove.
To help promote this past weekend's Coconut Grove Seafood Festival, event host Swarm Inc. put together a "not-so-impossible mission" to kick off Florida's stone crab season. The mission was simple: Safely deliver the first batch of stone crab claws by helicopter to Peacock Park. "Secret agent" and Grove celebrity Monty Trainer accepted the not-so-dangerous task. Widely known for his namesake restaurant, Monty's, Trainer may now be best associated with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, for which he serves as president. Trainer is also honorary chairman of the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival.
Stone crab at the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival.
Photo by John Dangaran
Friday morning, Trainer was dressed in traditional Miami garb: a long-sleeved striped guayabera, khaki pants, bleached Panama hat, and sunglasses. He was flanked by "bodyguard" and Swarm Inc. president Javi Zayas, dressed in a black suit and tie, complete with earpiece and sunglasses. As the chopper flew over the Grove, Trainer's hat rested atop a metal briefcase as if securing the precious cargo of shaved ice and stone crab claws.
The mission went off without a hitch. They landed safely on the grass of the park while a crowd waited. Asked why they did such an over-the-top delivery, Zayas joyfully responded, "We feel like it's important to do these types of activities to attract not just attention but also the authenticity of the event."
Monty Trainer and Javi Zayas aboard the chopper.
Photo by John Dangaran
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This was the third year of the Coconut Grove Seafood Festival. The centerpiece was the Shipwrecked Oyster Lounge. Partnering with Lure Fishbar and the terrace bar the Rum Line, the lounge offered covered seating complete with a raw bar.
The seafood festival also partnered with businesses all around the Miami area. "We try to go with local, authentic Miami seafood markets, purveyors, and restaurants," Zayas said. "We really want Casablanca and the Golden Rule and the other seafood ventures to make money, because it's not a seafood festival without them."