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Island Easter arrives, appears golden

By Rick Catlin, Islander Reporter

Concluding the Easter Sunrise Service, Susan Kruse of the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island is joined on the altar by the Rev.’s Michael Mullen, Stephen King, Gary Batey, Ed Moss and Rosemary Backer, and Kiwanis president Claudette Welch and the audience of more than 1,500 people at the Manatee Public Beach in singing, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Drew Thomas accompanies on keyboard.

From the podium and across the sands to the Gulf of Mexico, guests of the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island, members of the clergy and the club join in prayer at the 48th annual Easter Sunrise Service April 8 at the Manatee Public Beach. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy

The Rev. Rosemary Backer of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church delivers the Easter sermon at the 48th annual Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island Easter Sunrise Service at the Manatee Public Beach, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger points to a pair of garbage bins at the Manatee Public Beach that were overflowing when Kiwanis Club members arrived before sunrise to set up the Easter service.

Kiwanis Club members found piles of trash and debris April 8 at the Manatee Public Beach near the trailer-podium when they arrived before sunrise to set up the Easter service. Islander Photos: Bonner Joy

If you showed up on Anna Maria Island Saturday, April 7, looking for a room for one or two nights, you might have had difficulty finding an accommodation.

In fact, a number of business and accommodation owners said this Easter weekend was the best they have ever observed in terms of vehicles, people and spending.

“I didn’t have anybody call me with rooms available,” said Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce president Mary Ann Brockman. “It was an incredible weekend.”

“Sold out,” said David Teitelbaum, owner of four resorts in Bradenton Beach.

The Rod & Reel Motel in Anna Maria had one available room April 7, but that was quickly taken.

“Nothing for a weekly rental,” said Rebecca Barnett of AMI Accommodations Inc. The company manages more than 200 rentals.

“Really busy,” said Signa Bouziane of Mister Roberts Resort Wear, 5330 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach.

“Extremely busy,” said Lauren Sato of Beach Bums outdoors rentals, 427 Pine Ave., Anna Maria.

“The weather has cooperated this winter and I never saw this much walk-in traffic. (April 7) was great, and we’ve had our best February and March ever for sales.

“I think Easter weekend was the best, or one of the best, weekends we’ve ever had,” she said.

Likewise, said Laura Shely of Tide & Moon Boutique on Pine Avenue.

“We were swamped on Saturday. Very steady all day and there were hundreds of people walking the street,” she said. “My guess is everybody on Pine Avenue had a great weekend.”

Sponsors of Saturday’s Easter bunny visit, bonnet and egg roll contests on Pine Avenue said the event was again a big success.

A classic car, truck and bike show held at the Island Shopping Center in Holmes Beach by the Anna Maria Island Privateers enjoyed a “full house” for vehicle entries, ranging from a Studebaker to Austin Healey to a surfer woody wagon “kit car” that priced out at $100,000 when it was built 10 years ago, and the enthusiasts and Privateers enjoyed a day-long crowd.

The holiday weekend crescendo came Sunday morning at the Kiwanis Club of Anna Maria Island’s sunrise service, including all denominations and all Island churches at the Manatee Public Beach.

Organizer Larry Fowler estimated the crowd at more than 1,500, with chairs and blankets and people spread across the sand from the beach parking lot to the Gulf of Mexico waters and from south of the concession and lifguard stands to the playground on the north end. The service and music were heralded as one of the best ever by members of Kiwanis.

The offering collected — also the largest ever — by Kiwanis is shared among the Island churches, Harvey Memorial, Roser Memorial, CrossPointe Fellowship, Gloria Dei, Annunciation and St. Bernard.

The price of Easter weekend

Following the Kiwanis Easter Sunrise Service, members, including Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger, took note of conditions at the Manatee Public Beach, which included finding trash strown about on their arrival, trash bins overflowing near the cafe, and mounds of debris and trash bags.

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