‘Christmas Miracle’ 
on 65th Street

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Nick and Lauren Richardson prepare for an island Christmas celebration. Islander Photo: Courtesy Debbie Drennan
Lauren Richardson displays her engagement ring and wedding band. Islander Photo: Courtesy Danielle Hasty Wayne Cree, a volunteer with Suncoast Research and Recovery Club’s Ring Finders Metal Detection Service, scans the beach Dec. 22 in search of a missing engagement ring. Islander Photo: Courtesy Debbie Hasty
The unnamed ring finder from Delaware.

Christmas dreams do come true.

Lauren Richardson was celebrating her two-year wedding anniversary Dec. 21 near the 65th street access on the beach in Holmes Beach with her husband Nick and members of her family when she lost her engagement ring in the sand.

A lifelong visitor to Anna Maria Island, Lauren and her husband celebrated their wedding in Holmes Beach. Two years later, they returned for the holidays. But in just one day, their visit took an upsetting twist.

Debbie Hasty, Lauren’s mother, said Lauren had placed her wedding rings in the cup holder of their beach wagon while taking a dip in the water.

However, when she returned and saw the cup holder full of sand, she turned it over to dump it out — and remembered the rings.

The couple began sifting through the sand to find the rings. The wedding band was located, but the engagement ring had disappeared.

Several locals came out to help them find the ring, Hasty said, bringing colanders to sift through the sand. But despite their best efforts, the team of searchers was unable to locate Lauren’s ring.

She returned home without it. But the family, determined to locate the missing ring, went online to find a solution. There, they discovered the Suncoast Research and Recovery Club’s volunteer ring finders.

Palmetto resident Wayne Cree stepped up to the plate, bringing his metal detector the next day to the beach.

Cree came to the 65th street beach access and, after a thorough examination, informed them that someone else had already collected the ring.

Another local woman appeared and confirmed as much to Hasty and the Richardsons.

She had seen another man with a metal detector sweep the area earlier, pick up an object and pocket it. She had not stopped the man because he was too far and quickly left, the woman told Hasty.

The family filed a report with the Holmes Beach Police Department. “They said locals usually turn things in,” Hasty said.

Early morning Dec. 23, Hasty advised her daughter and son-in-law to finding the man on the beach and, luckily, they located him.

The gentleman, a tourist from Delaware, confirmed he had the ring in his wallet and returned it to the couple.

“Christmas miracles happen!” Lauren cheered as she returned home.

The couple returned with cash to thank the finder, but he had disappeared from the beach. And, in their excitement, they forgot to get his name.

Lauren and Nick celebrated Christmas with their family in Holmes Beach, her engagement ring safely on her finger again.

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