City Commissioner Troy Kent called Ike Leary a 'true ambassador' for Ormond Beach.
Since 1999, Ike Leary has dedicated himself to Cassen Park.
He refills the soap at the park's bathroom, spearheads the city's fishing tournaments for kids and keeps his Granada Bait and Tackle shop open 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas.
As Leary celebrated his shop's 20th-anniversary at the Park, the Ormond Beach City Commission surprised him by naming the park's recently repaired fishing pier the "Ike Leary Fishing Pier" — a decision that the commissioners and city staff had kept "secret" from Leary since October. Naming the pier after Leary was first suggested by former City Commissioner Rick Boehm in a meeting, and the commission continued discussion of the matter from the dais only when Leary wasn't present in the City Commission chambers.
"I am proud to call this man friend, and you’re pretty darn special when the city of Ormond Beach names something after you," said Commissioner Troy Kent during the city's ribbon cutting ceremony for the pier on Monday, May 27.
The fishing pier was damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Irma tore approximately 6,600 square feet of decking, leaving only the pilings standing. Repairs cost almost $760,000, according to a city press release, and the work was done by Brothers' Construction Inc. FEMA funds covered 75% of the project cost, state grants helped with 12.5%, and the city paid for the remaining balance.
When Mayor Bill Partington proclaimed that the fishing pier would be named after Leary, the gathered crowd — made up of city staff, officials, Ormond Strong and Leary's family — cheered.
Kent said Leary called him the Thursday before the ribbon cutting, upset that no city staffer had informed him there would be a ribbon cutting on the day of his 20th-anniversary celebration. Knowing the naming portion was a surprise, Kent placated him and told him he would let the city manager know, hoping that would be enough to keep Leary from asking more questions before the event.
Kent called Leary a "true ambassador" for the city.
Leary thanked everyone in attendance, wiping his cheeks of what could have been tears or sweat, or maybe a combination of both. He said he hopes to be at Cassen Park for another 20 years.
“I love my job," Leary said. "That’s just all there is to it. I love it — every minute of it.”