Santa’s Island vacation

Planning to attend Anna Maria Island’s holiday celebrations?

The Islander has a challenge: How many events can you attend with Santa on Anna Maria Island in December?

Take a Santa photo at each, be sure to note the event, location and date, and post to The Islander’s Facebook page.

At the end of the month — after St. Nick’s final visit late Dec. 24 or early Dec. 25 — The Islander will tally up the photographs to decide who visited with Santa at the most events.

The winner receives an Islander More Than a Mullet Wrapper T-shirt and $50.


AMI ushers in holidays

By Lisa Neff

Islander Reporter

’Twas the month before Christmas, when all across the Island organizers were stirring, preparing for holiday festivities.

St. Nicholas soon will be here — and will return most weekends in December.

A glance at Anna Maria Island’s holiday calendar:

• Through the holidays, the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, 5313 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, will collect donations for Toys for Tots.

• Dec. 1-11, at 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, the Island Players presents performances of the holiday-themed comedy “Those Crazy Ladies in the House on the Corner,” written by David Patrick Cook and directed by Russ Carthy.

The theater is at 10009 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

For more information, including box office details, go to

• Dec. 2, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Holmes Beach merchants and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, host a holiday open house.

Most of the activity will take place in the city’s downtown.

Santa will be hanging out at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, with the Anna Maria Island Privateers.

At the chamber office, 5313 Gulf Drive, merchants and the chamber board will light a Christmas tree at about 5 p.m.

Additionally, Holmes Beach arts groups — Artists Guild of Anna Maria Island, Island Gallery West and the Anna Maria Island Art League — will be open extended hours for receptions with artists.

For more information, call 941-778-1541.

• Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria, is the site of the annual Lester-Islander Family Fun Day.

The event features Duffy burgers and other lunch items, plus games and activities for children and raffles for adults. Santa will arrive by fire truck at about noon.

For more information, call 941-778-1908.

• Dec. 7, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, hosts an Island Christmas with music by Gulf Drive Solo to benefit the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra. Tickets are $8 in advance at the chamber or $10 at the event in the Sandbar pavilion.

For more information, go to or call 941-778-8585.

• Dec. 9, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Anna Maria businesses host a citywide holiday open house. Participating businesses will stay open extended hours to toast the season.

Santa, sources say, will be out and about that night.

• Dec. 10, 10 a.m., the Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade takes place, traveling from Bayfront Park in Anna Maria to Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach.

All floats must be staged by 9:30 a.m. and all entries must be motorized — including Santa’s sleigh.

There is no charge to participate in the parade.

For more information, call 941-752-5973.

• Dec. 10, 11 a.m., the Anna Maria Island Privateers host a post-parade Christmas party at Coquina Beach, where Santa will visit with children and hand out presents.

Also, the Privateers will provide a free lunch of hot dogs and soda pop for children.

• Dec. 10, 6:30 p.m., Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, holds the annual Bethlehem Walk, beginning and ending at the church.

For more information, call 941-778-0414.

• Dec. 10-11, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., the Anna Maria Island Art League’s Winterfest features a wide variety of artists offering items to deck the halls throughout the year.

The annual event takes place at Holmes Beach City Field, 5800 block of Marina Drive.

For more information, call 941-778-2099.

• Dec. 13, 10:30 a.m., the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, hosts the 17th annual Lawton Chiles Kids Christmas Party, featuring lunch and a visit from a Santa Claus bearing gifts — a holiday outfit and toys — for children.

For more information, or to help with presenting the party, call 941-778-0444.

• Dec. 17, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the Anna Maria Island Moose Lodge No. 2188, 110 Gulf Drive S., Bradenton Beach, hosts a holiday party for children 10 and under.

Santa will hand out presents and the Moose will deliver lunch courtesy of the Women of the Moose Chapter 1601.

Pre-registration is required at the lodge by Dec. 10.

For more information, call 941-778-4110.

• Dec. 17, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the Florida Maritime Museum and the Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage host a Music on the Porch Christmas Celebration at the museum’s old Burton Store, 4415 119th St. W., Cortez.

Instrumentalists are invited to join a jam session. And music enthusiasts are invited to applaud.

For more information, call 941-708-6120.

• Dec. 17, The Islander hosts the Where’s Woody Holiday Sidewalk Sale outside its office, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

Local artists offer their work, some at heavily discounted prices, for holiday shoppers and art-enthusiasts.

For more information or to become a participating artist, call The Islander at 941-778-7978.

• Dec. 17, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., the Bridge Street Merchants hosts the annual Christmas on Bridge Street celebration, featuring visits with Mr. and Mrs. Claus, raffles, a children’s gift bazaar, carols and holiday specials in the stores and restaurants, and a lighted boat parade by members of the Cortez Yacht Club.

For more information, call 941-778-8705.

• Dec. 18, at 2 p.m., the Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra presents “A Classical Holiday,” featuring holiday-themed music, including portions of “Messiah.”

The concert takes place at Crosspointe Fellowship, 8605 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

For more information, including ticket details, visit

• Dec. 27, the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count takes place on Anna Maria and Perico islands and Longboat Key, as well as Cortez.

The count is organized by the Manatee County Audubon Society chapter and coordinated by David Williamson, who is registering volunteers at

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