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Date of Issue: June 25, 2008

Parade, fireworks highlight holiday

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The Anna Maria Island Privateers lead the 2007 July 4 parade from Coquina Beach to Bayfront Park in Anna Maria. This year's parade will follow that same course. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff

A fireworks display on Independence Eve and a parade on Independence Day will showcase the July 4 holiday on Anna Maria Island.

The fireworks will be sponsored by the BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, and take place from a barge in the Gulf of Mexico not far from the restaurant at about 9 p.m.

Bell’s Fireworks will put on the permitted display, which is expected to bring thousands to the waterfront in the Island’s southernmost city.

“The thing I like best about the day is the fireworks at night,” said Josh Clark, 8, a summer visitor from Orlando who fished last Tuesday on the Historic Bridge Street Pier. “It’s really cool.”

A fireworks display will not take place on the Island July 4 due to officials’ concerns about the use of illegal fireworks on the beach. However, the traditional July 4 parade organized by the Anna Maria Island Privateers will take place.

The parade will begin at about 10 a.m. July 4 at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach and travel north to Bayfront Park in Anna Maria.

Entry in the parade is free. Privateers’ rules require that entries be motorized, decorated in colors and style “befitting the spirit of Independence Day” and arrive to the Coquina Beach staging area by 9:30 a.m.

The Privateers ask participants to pre-register for the event - forms are available at The Islander, 5404 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, and on the Internet at www.amiprivateers.org.

After the parade, AMIP invites the public to join in a celebration at Cafe on the Beach, where the group will announce the winners of its college scholarships.

Organizers announced they will award the most funding ever for the Privateers, $27,000 in scholarships at a time when, nationwide, tuitions continue to rise but loan lenders are on the decline.

Economic indicators for the holiday suggest that many people will spend July 4 close to home, especially with the price of gasoline expected to reach $4.39 per gallon early next month.

About 59.4 percent of consumers say increased gas prices will impact their spending for the holiday, up from last year’s 42.1 percent of consumers, according to the National Retail Federation.

“A traditional Fourth of July trip to the beach or amusement park will be more expensive than it has ever been,” said Phil Rist, vice president of strategy at BIGresearch, which conducted the July 4 survey for the NRF. “Instead of making elaborate travel plans, many consumers will choose to spend the holiday closer to home with family and friends.”

Summertime Holmes Beach resident Trisha Heartwood said she appreciated the restaurant-sponsored fireworks and the Privateers parade, which makes traveling unnecessary for her family.

“I am within walking distance of everything anybody could want to do on the Fourth of July,” Heartwood said. “The beach, the fireworks, the parade - all practically at my door.”

“It’s like a catered holiday,” said Helen Evans of Holmes Beach. “One of the best things about living here is wanting to stay home for the holidays.”