Anna Maria Island celebrates Independence Day

Anna Maria Island goes red, white, blue and “bang” July 3-4. The island will celebrate the July 4 holiday with two fireworks shows and a parade.

On July 3, The BeachHouse Restaurant, 200 Gulf Drive N., Bradenton Beach, will hold its 20th annual Fireworks Extravaganza.

Thousands of people will gather on the beach to the north and south of the restaurant to watch fireworks over the Gulf of Mexico.

The display will begin after nightfall.

Also, the restaurant will host a VIP party that includes seating for the fireworks, musical entertainment, a buffet and cocktails.

On July 4, the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria, will host a fireworks display after nightfall.

Again, thousands will gather on the beach by the waterfront restaurant, which will host a VIP party with a buffet, cocktails, party favors and music, as well as seating for the fireworks.

In the morning on July 4, the Anna Maria Island Privateers will present the annual Independence Day parade, which will travel from Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach to Bayfront Park in Anna Maria.

Parade participants are still welcome, but must ride, not walk, because the parade path is one of the longest known parades anywhere — the entire 7-mile length of Anna Maria Island.

Parade viewers are welcome all along the route, where they can expect to encounter thundering cannons and patriotic music, as well as flying beads, candy and other giveaways.

The parade — including Privateer scholarship winners — will begin at 10 a.m., traveling north on Gulf Drive, merging onto East Bay Drive, turning west on Manatee Avenue, then north on Gulf Drive past the Manatee Public Beach. The parade continues on Gulf Drive and then turns north on Marina Drive, which turns into Palm and then merges into Gulf Drive. At Pine Avenue, the parade heads east to the city pier and north to Bayfront Park.

At about noon, after the parade, the Privateers steer their ship, the Skullywag, over to the Manatee Public Beach and the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, 4000 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, where the nonprofit hosts a beachfront community party on the patio and present $17,300 in college scholarship awards. The cafe provides live entertainment, and everyone is welcome.

For more information about the Sandbar event, call the restaurant at 941-778-8709. For details about the BeachHouse event, call the restaurant at 941-779-2222.

For more information about the AMIP parade or party, call Tim “Hammer” Thompson at 941-780-1669.


The Anna Maria Island Privateers 2013 scholars include:


Hilary Hathaway- Shipreck Scholarship

Sajani Patel- Whitey Horton Scholarship



Ourania Lardas

Jimmy “James” Campbell

Jacob Karguarer

Brandi Ricker

Leanne Browning

Alexander “Xander” Chawi



Monica “Molly” McDonough



Tiana Smith- Sandpiper Scholarship

Justin Puthusseril

Myles Johnson

Samantha Haga


Volunteer cleanup crew preparing for July 5

An all-volunteer crew is preparing for a post-holiday beach cleanup Friday, July 5.

Diane Havelka of Beach Bums and John Ganfield of Feeling Swell are coordinating the effort for the North End Merchants Organization and inviting volunteers to gather at 7 a.m. at Ginny’s and Jane E’s at the Old IGA, 9807 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria.

NEMO will provide garbage bags and divide volunteers into beach sections for cleanup, while Ginny’s and Jane’s will be providing a morning coffee jump-start to the event.

NEMO first undertook the project when the group formed in 2010 to show the community its patriotic spirit.

Organizers are accepting donations of trash bags for the campaign.

For more information, call Diane Havelka at Beach Bums at 941-778-3316.



Bang! Boom! Kapow!

Every Fourth of July holiday, the sights and sounds of fireworks fill the island skies.

But as you prepare to enjoy the holiday, you should be mindful of Florida laws regarding fireworks that prohibit any pyrotechnics that fly or go “boom,” unless handled by a professional.

Local law enforcement have found in the past that enforcing fireworks laws is complicated because they’re  everywhere, and few people call in complaints.

Each year the Manatee County Sheriff’s office deputies patrol the beach in the city of Anna Maria on foot and from an ATV, confiscating illegal fireworks. Likewise, officers from the Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach police departments patrol the beach to keep people safe.

Still private displays of fireworks on AMI beaches manage each year to rival the professional pyrotechnics.

It seems people believe they have a basic right to celebrate Independence Day by shooting fireworks.

Law enforcement recommends you be safe, not sorry. Be legal. And enjoy what the professional fireworks for free on July 3 and July 4.

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