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Date of Issue: March 30, 2005

Island busy enjoying holiday season

Two major events Saturday will celebrate the holiday spirit and challenge eager youngsters to enjoy both - the Privateers' Christmas Parade at 10 a.m. and the Lesters' Family Fun Day starting at 11.

No problem, though, for any reasonably agile young'un. They can easily watch the parade and even meet Santa at 11:30 a.m. at Coquina and then hit the Lesters' bash in Anna Maria before it winds up at 2 p.m.

And along with these big events are several other important affairs, such as the Lawton Chiles Christmas for Kids Tuesday midday and the Anna Maria Island Historical Society's holiday party Monday evening.

Not to mention Winterfest craft festival, not a Christmas party but surely a shopping event, or the much more serious and devotional Bethlehem Walk at Roser Memorial Community Church the following Saturday, Dec. 20.

The Privateers' Christmas Parade will be Island-long, starting at 10 a.m. at Bayfront Park in Anna Maria and roll down Marina Drive and Gulf Drive to Coquina Beach. There, starting about 11:30 a.m. Santa will give presents to children 12 and under after traveling south with the Privateers in their famed boat-float.

Privateers and their junior auxiliary, the Privateens, will serve the kids hot dogs and sodas donated by Skinny's Place and the Cafe on the Beach.

Paraders of all kinds are welcome, as long as they are on wheels; the route is too long for marchers. Just show up at Bayfront Park by 9:30 a.m., preferably after alerting the Privateers at 747-4953.

The Family Fun Day, organized by Islanders Chuck and Joey Lester and sponsored again this year by The Islander, will be from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Anna Maria Island Community Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The Lesters will be there, along with young and old from all up and down the Island. Santa Claus will join the festivities at noon, arriving by fire truck courtesy of the West Manatee Fire & Rescue District.

The Duffy's Tavern "grill team" will cook hamburgers donated by the Lesters and hot dogs from John Horne of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, all cooked on a grill provided by Damon Presswood of Ooh La La! Bistro. These goodies come at old-fashioned prices.

There will be a fishing pond, craft tables, dancers, face painting, field and relay games, and more. Details at 778-1908.

The Chiles Christmas party, started by the late Gov. Chiles, will be at the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, from 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, for about 100 Manatee County needy youngsters who otherwise wouldn't have much Christmas. They'll get shoes, clothes and toys given by Chiles Group employees and friends. Here, too, the fire district will deliver Santa Claus in a fire truck. To help the cause call 778-1696.

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society's event will be at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at the fellowship hall of Island Baptist Church, 8605 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria. The Island Middle School Conch Fritters Band will provide music. The party is open to members and supporters of the society. Information at 778-0492.

Winterfest will be from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13-14, at the Holmes Beach City Hall park. It is a major fundraiser for the Anna Maria Island Art League.

It will have the works of 100 or more crafters, live music, food, exhibits by community organizations, and and art raffle. Information at 778-2099.

The Bethlehem Walk the following Saturday, Dec. 20, around the Roser Church neighborhood will have a living holy couple and baby Jesus in Islanders John and Charlene Delfito and Sophia, who will be 1 year old on New Year's Day.

They and dozens of pilgrims will call at several "inns" along the way, seeking "room at the inn." All will end up back at the church for Christmas caroling, hot chocolate and cookies.