The World's Largest Trailer Park
In 1935, it was just a "twinkle" in the eye of the Bradenton Chamber of Commerce. "The World's Largest Trailer Park" was born October 21, 1936, when some men felt the need for such a place in the community. The Bradenton Kiwanis Club took the idea as their project. A 40 acre subdivision at the southwest corner of the city was bought by the club. The lots were divided into trailer spaces with electric, water and sewer. Bradenton Trailer Park was the first trailer park in Manatee County. As the park grew (peak capacity was 1188 trailers), the donors were reimbursed, but the reason for the project remained the same. All profits were to go into a youth fund. Streets A & B were removed and a Kiwanis Hall was erected.
In 1962 the old auditorium came down, and in its place the present building was erected, named for Robert Beall, a devoted club member. Between 1965 and 1969, renovation of the park began. Modern shuffle courts, management facilities, recreation rooms for cards, exercise, library and pool table were added, and the purchase of 5 1/2 acres in the southwest corner. By 1972 the park was totally revamped, making room for 600 mobile homes. All the improvements cost over 1 million dollars. This now gated community was purchased by a cooperative formed by the residents in 1997 to the tune of 8.8 million dollars and the name changed to Bradenton Tropical Palms. Improvements continued with a modernized kitchen named for life long resident Ruth Kissell in 1999. The pool and hot tub were added, along with handicapped accessible restrooms. The maintenance building was added in 2000, and the gazebo was constructed in 2003 in memory of loved ones by remaining spouses and friends. The gazebo is a gathering place after golf, as well as cookouts hosted by the golf and shuffle clubs. In 2016 the park received a settlement from the county for the land they took to improve Wares Creek. With some of this settlement the mortgage was paid off and BTP became debt free. There was a huge "Mortgage Burning" party to celebrate.
Change has been what's enabled BTP to survive so long. There is no other neighborhood in Manatee County quite like it. It was, and always will be the first of its kind. You can be involved as you want in this community. There is always something to do and never a dull moment.