Artist Arun Wijetilleke, Ornament Chairman.
Renae Senn and Founder of the Ornament Program
Nat Jackson

Artist Wijetilleke explains how an
ornament is developed

Garden Club President Kathie Althoff presents Arun
with a Pillar of Pride Award for her outstanding art
for the ornaments, with Renae Senn looking on

The Garden Club of IRC
 Presents our 25th Annual
 Christmas Ornament


The impressive entrance sign at the intersection of Indian River Boulevard and Royal Palm Pointe, designed by Conrad Pickel Studios to include a palm tree mosaic on each side, offers only a taste of the amazing expanse which lies beyond.

Royal Palm Pointe Park, opened in February 2001, extends from Indian River Boulevard to the Indian River Lagoon. Open green spaces planted with palm trees, flowers and shrubs provide an elegant median for the one way road which loops around the park. Areas of the green spaces are designed to accommodate community events. Professional offices, restaurants, small businesses and condominiums line both sides of the roadway.

The park occupies a peninsula of land deeply rooted in the development of Vero Beach and the three bridges which played such an integral part in its development.

The first bridge to span the Indian River Lagoon was built while the city was still a part of St. Lucie County. Opened in 1920 the Vero Bridge was made of cabbage palm pilings with a roadbed of heart of pine planks. The 145 foot steel center span swung sideways to allow boat traffic to pass through.

After World War II local leaders recognized the need for a new bridge as Vero Beach and the surrounding county began to develop rapidly. Through the efforts of former state senator Merrill Barber and other community leaders a “state of the art” concrete, draw span bridge replaced the old Vero Bridge. Dedicated on March 18, 1951 it was named the Merrill P. Barber Bridge to honor the man who had worked tirelessly for it.

After four decades the Barber Bridge was rapidly becoming inadequate due to the increased traffic both across the bridge and under the bridge. A four lane, high span structure that entirely eliminated the need for a draw span was built and appropriately carries the name, the Merrill P. Barber Bridge. It was dedicated on February 18, 1995.

Following many heated discussions the Vero Beach City Council voted to dismantle the old bridge, leaving an empty peninsula jutting awkwardly into the lagoon. The alignment of the new bridge, which intersects Indian River Boulevard north of the existing approach, resulted in diverting traffic away from businesses on the former causeway.

Working with the Royal Palm Pointe Merchants Association, the Vero Beach Planning Department, the Urban Resource Group and two outstanding artists, Paul Pickel and Sharon Sexton, developed a plan to make Royal Palm Pointe Park a destination for which the city could be proud. Planners, engineers, architects, designers, and artists worked in unison to make the plan a reality.

In addition to the loop roadway highlighted by the lush green median, the tip of the peninsula has been developed into a unique park. Several steps up from the easternmost parking area is a plaza featuring an interactive fountain punctuated by forty-two lighted water nozzles. The fountain emanates from a fifty foot in diameter mosaic designed and executed by artist Paul Pickel. He and his associates painstakingly installed the many glass pieces, fabricated in Italy, to execute the theme of “a colorful spiral sun with bright flames celebrating in all directions.” The Pickel Studio also designed five mosaic circles and two royal palm trees to surround the fountain.

Several steps down from the plaza at the water’s edge is a colonnade of four, four-sided, ten foot tall, ceramic tiled columns designed by artist Sharon Sexton. She carved, sculpted and glazed each tile to depict elements of ecological beauty indicative of the ocean, the wet land area and the hammock as well as the Indian River Lagoon. A fishing pier extends into the lagoon waters from this location.

In the distance the new Barber Bridge gracefully spans the lagoon while the prior bridge’s terminus is home to an amazingly imaginative park for all to enjoy.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous assistance of Mr. Paul Pickel.

Sources: The Royal Palm Pointe Park website and the Indian River County Library Archives.

Ornament design from an original sketch by Arun Wijetilleke.

Brochure compiled by Nat Jackson.

All proceeds from the sale of this ornament will be used by the Garden Club of Indian River County, Inc. for its projects.

Garden Club Of IRC      "Showcase of Ornaments" 1992-2016
If you wish to view them on one page click here


The ornaments are available for $20.00 at the following locations:

All Thru The House - 1165 U.S. Highway 1


Corey's Pharmacy - 2912 Ocean Drive


Cousineau Jewelers - Ryanwood Shopping Center


Dermatherapy, Inc. - 362 17th Street


Heritage Center - 2140 14th Avenue


John Michael Matthews Fine Jewelry - 645 Beachland Blvd.


Leigh Jewelers - 3401 Ocean Drive


Lorenzo's Hair Design & Spa - 1945 23rd Avenue


Maison Beach - 4895 Highway A1A
   Pelican Plaza


McKee Botanical Garden - 350 U.S. Highway 1


Miller's HealthMart Pharmacy - 777 37th Street


Monti's Flower Market -1163 Commerce Avenue


Paradise Florist & Gifts - 1116 US Highway 1


Poinsettia Groves - 1481 US 1


Royal Palm Frame Shop and Gallery - 52 Royal Palm Pointe


Visage Hair and Nail Designs - 493 22nd Place


Zeran Jewelers - 630 21st Street,  Miracle Mile Plaza


Florida Federation of Garden Clubs   |    District  X   |   National Garden Clubs Inc.   |   Indian River County Extension Department 

 Garden Club of IRC   2526 17th Avenue   Vero Beach,  Florida 32960    772-567-4602   info@gardenclubof