While many civic organizations across the country struggle with membership goals, Moose Lodge No. 2188, 110 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach, does not have the same problem.
According to Moose governor Ron Luckerman, membership for the Island’s lodge is 6,000 strong, “and is the largest Moose membership not only in Florida, but the country,” said Luckerman.
“We only have 22 parking spots, so it gets interesting sometimes,” he said.
It’s easy to see why the Bradenton Beach-based lodge enjoys so much popularity. The facility is situated on the Gulf of Mexico shore, offering its members their own beach access, a stunning view of the Gulf “and some of the best food around,” said Luckerman.
It’s that view that is the driving force behind a planned $300,000 renovation to the facility’s interior that will basically flip-flop the current layout.
Luckerman said he hopes construction will begin in the next three months, but is relying on a speedy permit process to meet that goal.
“First we will ask the city for a letter of no objection at the July 5 commission meeting,” said Luckerman. “You never know what the commissioners will do, but we expect that to happen. Then we just need to wait on the DEP permits and we can begin, but DEP has 90 days to review the application, and if they wait the full 90 days, we might have to wait until next spring to begin.”
Luckerman said the construction process may take about three months, so a 90-day delay would mean ongoing construction by the time tourist season arrives.
Renovations include a change to the interior layout of the private club. The bar area, now at the facility’s entrance, lacks a Gulf view. It will be moved to the Gulffront side of the facility with open views of the beach. Walls will be removed and new support beams will be added.
“Hopefully we won’t have to close down once construction starts,” said Luckerman. “We are going to try to keep it open the whole time, but there may be a day or two where we have to shut down.”
Lodges across the country, Canada and Bermuda are affiliated with Moose International in Chicago, which is also the home of Moose Heart.
Moose Heart is a facility for orphaned children who have no family members to take care of them.
“It’s kind of like a village,” said Luckerman. “The kids live there and they can go to school there all the way through high school.”
Moose members also support Moose Haven in Orange Park, Fla., a retirement center for Moose members in need of assisted living.
Locally, Moose members raised $5,000 for the Safe Kids Coalition, donated to the Hope Center for abused women, and contribute to “basically any children’s events we can help with,” he said.
“We are big on charities and try to be involved with just about anything that has to do with kids,” he said.
Anyone who wants to become a member of Moose Lodge 2188, Luckerman said can stop by the club and fill out an application.
“You have to be sponsored by a current Moose member,” said Luckerman. “A man must be sponsored by a male member and a woman must be sponsored by a female member.”
Once sponsored, Luckerman said it’s just a matter of having the application reviewed for approval.
And then there’s an initiation, and an open door to the lodge on the beach.