m. athalie range_web.jpgVIRGINIA KEY — The Virginia Key Beach Park Trust has formed a partnership with the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center for a joint venture to expand the Seagrass Adventures at the Park located on Virginia Key.

While efforts are made to educate and inform the community about the environment that surrounds them, this partnership allows for a closer, more detailed look at the history of the park and the impact it has had on the community and the environment through a series of “adventures.”

At each adventure, a naturalist will serve as a guide and instructor who will help “explorers” become familiar with the creatures at the park and the wildlife around them.

In the hands-on adventures, explorers will be able to search the waters for sea life they can catch with a net. They will then gather on the open beach to display and discuss what they’ve found.

The park serves as an ideal location for fun and learning, providing visitors with an all-natural beach, amusement rides, environmental attractions and history.

Participants in the adventures will be able to take away a lesson on how the park came to be known as Miami’s “Colored Only Beach” in 1945. Visitors

will also learn how it has become a park for everyone and one of the city’s largest recreational landmarks.

The park is located on the beach, which was the only one blacks could visit during segregation. It became a spot for social gatherings for tourists and residents who turned out to enjoy amenities such as a carousel, a pavilion for dancing and a mini-train that ran through the park.

Virginia Key beach was originally closed to African Americans until a small group of black men living in Miami defied the ban and walked into the water as police formed a cordon to scare them into giving up.

The late former city of Miami Commissioner M. Athalie Range was instrumental, together with the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust, in getting the park added  to the National Register of Historic Places in June 2002.

Now, characterized by a unique and fragile natural environment, the park serves as a major recreational location for those who want to enjoy the sun and the ocean.

The Biscayne Nature Center’s Seagrass Adventures, which are being held through the summer, are open to  individuals or groups of 10 to 100. The cost  is $12 per person.

For more information of to make reservations, call 305-361-6767 ext 119 or e-mail info@BiscayneNatureCenter.org.

For more information on the park itself, call Kechi Okpala at 305-960-4618, e-mail KOkpala@miamigov.com or visit www.VirginiaKeyBeachPark.net. You can follow them on Twitter: @HVKBPTevents or find them on Facebook: HistoricVirginiaKeyBeachPark.