The first personal message planks sold by The Islander were installed on the Anna Maria City Pier last week, far in advance of the City Pier Centennial Celebration May 13-14.
More planks will be put in place in the weeks leading up to the two-day affair, said Islander publisher Bonner Joy.
Proceeds from the sale of the planks by the newspaper and the City Pier Restaurant will help fund a $10,000 fireworks show at the pier May 14.
Joy said the response to the planks has been excellent, and she expects all 1,000 planks to be sold by April.
Plank purchasers can have a personal message engraved, including a memorial tribute to a family member or loved one, or a courtesy salutation.
Following an Anna Maria Island Privateers parade starting at 6 p.m. May 13 from CrossePointe Fellowship on Gulf Drive to Pine Avenue and to the pier, a historical marker will be unveiled at the pier. On May 14, the two businesses will host a VIP dinner party to coincide with the fireworks display.
A number of other centennial activities are planned for Saturday, May 14.
From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a food festival organized by Ed Chiles of the Sandbar Restaurant will be held along Pine Avenue.
Approximately 25 area restaurants will prepare their best cuisine for visitors. A beer and wine court is planned, and musicians will perform along Pine Avenue.
Members of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society will appear in period costume, retail shops will sell pier memorabilia and their own wares, and artists will set up in various locations to sell their work.
The Privateers will host a family picnic from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Bayfront Park that will include a number of activities for children.
Shortly after the 8:10 p.m. sunset, the fireworks display is expected to take place on a barge in Tampa Bay near the pier and Bayfront Park.
The Anna Maria City Pier opened in 1911 and was used by boats from Tampa and Bradenton as the only means to access the Island until the Cortez Bridge opened in 1923.
Several historians believe it is the oldest city pier still operating in Florida.
Information on purchasing planks in advance of the City Pier Centennial Celebration is available at The Islander website at www.islander.org.