Ho, ho, ho! Holiday ho ho hoax

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Holmes Beach Commissioner Pat Morton, left, and HB code enforcement officer Nate Brown arrive to check out a sign posted Dec. 20 announcing a new McDonald’s is “coming soon” to the location of the former Bank of America on Manatee Avenue. Islander Photo: Bonner Joy

Coming soon: Golden arches at Holmes Beach gateway?

Three prank signs touting “McDonald’s Coming Soon” posted Dec. 20 at a former bank site weren’t funny to Holmes Beach city officials.

The three signs posted at the intersection of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue caused a flurry of phone calls to city hall.

“The phone was ringing off the hook,” said code enforcement officer Nate Brown, who soon determined the phony signs were posted illegally.

The signs all bore three words: “McDonald’s. Coming Soon.”

Any excitement — negative or positive — spurred by the purportedly imminent arrival of the burger giant was short-lived.

“It’s not going to happen,” said Commissioner Pat Morton as he eyed the signs at 699 Manatee Ave. “It’s somebody’s idea of a joke.”

Tara Burke, a Bank of America representative, said the property is not on the market.

Within two hours, after obtaining approval from the Bank of America, code enforcement personnel plucked the signs out of the ground.

The BOA branch was “permanently” closed Dec. 5, according to a sign posted on the front door.

Speculation has been rampant on the island about possible new tenants.

It won’t be the McDonald’s touted by the fake signs, Brown said, at least not without a zoning change. After conferring with building official James McGuinness via phone, Brown confirmed the property is not zoned for a restaurant.

One of the signs was posted facing East Bay Drive traffic, one faced Manatee Avenue West and another was on the turn lane for northbound motorists from East Bay Drive to access eastbound Manatee Avenue West and the Anna Maria Island Bridge.

The signs were made of a thin paper covering repurposed political signs from Forward Manatee, a political action committee formed in 2016 to lobby for school and county sales tax initiatives.

Officials for Forward Manatee, headquartered at 6688 Cortez Road W., could not be reached for comment.

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