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Committee readies for pier celebration

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Planning for the May 13-14 Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Celebration is on schedule, with the pier committee now meeting twice monthly until the event.

After hearing reports of the planned activities at the committee’s Feb. 14 meeting, committee chair Sissy Quinn said the work required “can be mind-boggling at times, but we are going to have a great event.”

The activities begin at 6 p.m. May 13 with an Anna Maria Island Privateers parade from CrossePointe Fellowship up Gulf Drive, then along Pine Avenue to the pier at Bay Boulevard.

Caryn Hodge, who is organizing the inaugural Anna Maria Food and Cultural Festival on Pine Avenue May 14 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., said 25 food vendors have signed up, and there could be more within the next few weeks. The maximum for the food festival is 30, she noted.

Ed Chiles, owner of the Sandbar, BeachHouse and Mar Vista restaurants, is underwriting the cost of the food festival, which he said he hopes will become an annual event.

Hodge also presented a draft plan for setting up Pine Avenue for the festival.

The plan shows where food vendors, artists, entertainers, ticket booths, first-aid stations, information stalls and a beer garden would be located. A VIP tent will be adjacent to the beer garden, which is planned for the northwest corner of the Pine Avenue-Bay Boulevard intersection.

Hodge said about 15 wine distributors will be paired with food vendors.

“It’s only a draft,” Hodge said, “but it gives us something to work with.”

Local artists also will be along Pine Avenue, displaying and selling their works. Actors in period costume will perform skits at different Pine Avenue intersections.

A space for children’s activities under the direction of the Anna Maria Island Community Center is planned and artwork from students at Anna Maria Elementary School will be displayed.

Hodge and Sandy Mattick head up the advertising and marketing campaign, and will soon have flyers at many Island locations announcing the centennial celebration.

Mattick also has a website planned — piercentennial.com — that will be linked to the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce and Islander newspaper website. She plans to contact other outlets to propose a link to the centennial on their websites.

Hodge said advertising for the food event will be regional. Ads will be placed in Florida magazines, newspapers and on websites.

“We are advertising for the food event, but including everything taking place” for the celebration, Hodge said.

She reassured Quinn that Chiles cover those advertising costs.

Hodge also requested more volunteers to help with ticket sales and comfort stations, and that owners of golf carts volunteer their services for the centennial.

Proceeds from the food festival will be donated to Island charities after expenses are met.

Islander publisher Bonner Joy reported that the first round of engraved planks sold by the newspaper in partnership with the pier were installed at the pier and the second 100 are with the engraver.

A VIP party and $10,000 fireworks show sponsored by The Islander and the City Pier Restaurant is scheduled after sunset May 14 to end the celebration is to be funded by the plank sales.

After hearing all the reports, Quinn said the next few months are going to be busy for the committee and volunteers.

“Now, it’s time to put the pedal to the medal and meet every two weeks,” she said.

Members and volunteers agreed.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for 3 p.m. Feb. 28 at Anna Maria City Hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

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