Quiet celebrations anticipated for July 4 holiday

ANNA MARIA ISLAND — The annual Anna Maria Island Fourth of July Parade has been canceled due to the pandemic, but holiday residential rentals are booked and most businesses are prepared and open.

“We are 95% occupied at this point for the Fourth of July weekend and have implemented additional cleaning and sanitizing, following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines,” Billi Gartman, owner of Coastal Cottages rental agency, said June 24 in an email to The Islander.

Brooke Olson, of Powell, Ohio, who rented a vacation house in Anna Maria for her household of 13, said the family chose to celebrate the holiday privately, by the pool.

“Our household is multigenerational and my eldest son, Amick, 15, has autism and is immunocompromised. So we are especially vigilant and plan to keep to ourselves while we visit Anna Maria Island and maybe rent a boat for the day,” Olson said.

Olson said the vacationers would support the local economy by ordering takeout from island restaurants and shops, but would avoid dining rooms.

Ammanda Simonetti is the owner of new restaurant, Pizza Social, on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria. It opened June 17.

She said as of June 26, the restaurant was prepared to carry on with business as usual for the Fourth of July.

“We are still trying to navigate our current status,” Simonetti said.

The restaurant closed after learning a pre-opening worker was exposed to COVID-19, and the reopening has not been announced.

Charter fishing guide Peter Robinson had “not seen an increase in bookings around the July 4 holiday, but in the past I have.”

He expects many of out-of-town visitors will bring their boats as the holiday falls on a Saturday.

“Although there will be no parade or fireworks, I anticipate that the island will be busy due to the holiday and, in our hearts and minds, we will all celebrate July 4,” Terri Kinder, president of the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, said June 24.

Pizza Social on Pine Avenue, a fresh-made pizza and salad restaurant, had barely opened when it learned a worker tested positive for COVID-19. They closed temporarily, quarantined and cleaned. Islander File Photo: Brook Morrison