By Jen Alexander

The Marathon Community Park will play host to this year’s Joy on the Rock Festival on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hosted by Marathon’s New Life Church, and sponsored by other churches, the free event aspires to bring both joy and hope to the Marathon community. 

“Joy on the Rock is a family-friendly festival celebrating our community and supporting local non-profits,” said New Life’s pastor John Krainer. “We offer a variety of free activities for all ages, including bounce houses, ax throwing, live music and more. We also showcase the tireless efforts of our local nonprofits and community servants who care for all of us who call the Keys home.”

The event has a dual purpose, in the organizers’ words: to provide a family-friendly event in which believers and non-believers can come together and enjoy a day of activities, learn more about what their community is doing, and worship God. The second purpose is to help raise awareness of local ministries and nonprofit organizations in the area. 

Several churches will provide music, equipment and resources for the event, including the Layton Community Baptist Church, San Pablo Church, Last Resort Ministry, Church of Christ, Calvary Baptist Church, Marathon Church of God, First Baptist Church, Marathon Community Church, Calvary Chapel Key West, Keys Community Church of Big Pine and the Vineyard Church. 

“Joy on the Rock is made possible by the collaborative efforts of local businesses, individuals and churches,” said Krainer. “We are beyond excited to bring this larger-than-life celebration to our community and to bring joy and hope to everyone who calls Marathon home,” said Krainer.

There are more than 30 vendors and nonprofits participating in this year’s event. Musicians included in the weekend’s playlist include the 79th Street Band, One Way Lane, Kirk of the Keys Band, the Vineyard Family Band and the 5th Street Baptist Band. 

According to the New Life Church website, the Marathon location at 4711 Overseas Hwy. was established more than 50 years ago. The church describes itself as “a beacon of hope and love in the heart of the Florida Keys. We’ve grown together as a vibrant, multi-generational and multi-cultural family of faith, bound by love for Christ and the waters that surround us.”

The church aims to foster a welcoming community of faith, rooted in love, spiritual growth and service. 

Sponsors making the weekend festivities possible include Design Center, Juice Paradise, Discount Rock & Sand, Sunbelt Rentals, Fishermen’s Community Hospital, Deb’s Cleaning, Paradise Towing, The Pittsburgers, and the Kleve, Adams and Manz families.

Jen Alexander is a teacher and volleyball coach at Sugarloaf School. She is a lover of travel, adventure, action, home improvement and family. A self-proclaimed "master of none," she is a doer of all and partaker of anything fun and exciting.