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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

L.A. Times article has chamber phones ringing

A story in the Jan. 16 issue of the Los Angeles Times on the front page of the travel section about vacationing on Anna Maria Island has prompted more than 200 telephone calls to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce.

The story was done by a freelance writer Ferne Arfin from Great Britain who, according to her story, has a sister living on the Island and has vacationed here several times.

"It's been phenomenal," said AMICC Executive Director Mary Ann Brockman. "I had no idea anyone was doing a story about the Island until she called and told me it would appear in the Jan. 16 issue of the Times. It's certainly a very positive story."

Indeed, she said the telephone at the Chamber office has been ringing off the hook the past week with people looking for Anna Maria Island after reading the article.

The story was not a paid advertisement, added Brockman, but certainly painted a wonderful picture of  Island beaches and ambiance, along with mentioning a few restaurants and businesses.

Arfin wrote about great dining experiences at the Sandbar restaurant in Anna Maria, the Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach, the Gulf Drive Cafe, Mr. Bones BBQ in Holmes Beach, the Sun House in Bradenton Beach and Joe's Eats and Sweets in Bradenton Beach.

A picture of Joe's Eats and Sweets owner Joe Spallino appeared with the article.

The writer also mentioned Capt. George Glaser of the Mystic Dolphin tour boat in Holmes Beach.

Other businesses to get the Arfin seal of approval were the Harrington House Bed & Breakfast in Holmes Beach, BridgeWalk in Bradenton Beach and the Cedar Cove Resort & Cottages in Bradenton Beach, where Afrin said she waved to the beach Web cam for her friends back in London.

Arfin also traced the history of the Island and each city, along with the beauty of the Island lifestyle, Coquina Beach and fishing at the Anna Maria City Pier.

Brockman did note that one Island resident came in to complain that the chamber was trying to bring visitors from California with the article. Not so, Brockman said. "We didn't buy this and had no idea it was being done, but this type of travel story is priceless."

Brockman said she called her son, who lives in L.A., to get a copy of the story.

Anyone interested in reading the story can obtain a copy from the chamber office at 5313 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach, or online at www.latimes.com/travel. Search for the Jan. 16 issue.