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Policing reviewed for pier party

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Sgt. Dave Turner of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation and MCSO Deputy Gary Sellito said they’re impressed with plans to celebrate the city pier’s centennial.

The officers were briefed by the centennial celebration committee at its Dec. 13 meeting on plans for the May 13-14. 2011, celebration. The Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration Committee has been planning the event for more than two years.

Turner said the committee is providing plenty of time to plan for crowd and traffic control. The number of officers needed will depend on how much of Pine Avenue is blocked off for the celebration, which includes a wine and food festival.

The pier celebration begins at 6 p.m. May 13, with a parade from CrossePointe Fellowship to the City Pier organized by the Anna Maria Island Privateers.

The Privateers also plan a family picnic starting at 4 p.m. May 14 at Bayfront Park that should end about 7 p.m., just in time for a fireworks display.

The Islander newspaper and City Pier Restaurant are sponsoring the $10,000 fireworks show and selling memorial planks as a fundraiser. A maximum of 1,000 planks will be sold.

The fireworks display comes with a VIP party at the City Pier with limited seating. The fireworks will be shot from a barge offshore, which means the MCSO marine unit will be needed for patrol, according to Turner.

Sellito said he was concerned about closing the pier to the general public, but he acknowledged there may be a safety issue if too many people attempt to view the fireworks from the pier.

Committee chair Sissy Quinn asked Anna Maria Mayor Mike Selby to check with city attorney Jim Dye on that issue.

Sellito said if the vendor map is ready by the end of January, that will be “plenty of time” to assign deputies.

Volunteer Caryn Hodge estimated about 2,500 people would attend the food and cultural event, but Commissioner Jo Ann Mattick thought that number low.

“We drew 10,000 people for Bayfest,” she said.

“And we’re already advertising in Europe and Germany and elsewhere about the celebration,” Mattick said, adding that many stamp collectors are coming just for the one-day U.S. Post Office cancellation stamp depicting the city pier.

Turner and Sellito said attendance would likely be higher than 2,500 people on May 14.

Parking will be available at the Anna Maria Island Community Center field, CrossePointe Fellowship and Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Holmes Beach.

After hearing of all the progress, planned events and attendance sizes, Turner estimated he would need between five and eight deputies for the two-day event, but emphasized that’s just a preliminary estimate. The extra deputies would complement the regular MCSO shift for the city those days.

The committee will meet again at 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 3, for an update on activities, but Hodge said she might not have the final number of food vendors at that meeting.

“That’s OK,” Sellito said. “We’ve got plenty of time.”

Turner added that the committee has done a lot of planning and work for the centennial.

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