Pandemic concerns clear AMI’s community calendar

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An audience attends a past Symphony on the Sand at Coquina Beach. The annual November event was canceled for 2020. Islander File Photo.

Many islanders who “streamed” and “Zoomed” through spring and summer may continue home-based, remote-centric entertainment through the fall.

October traditionally brings the launch of a fall-winter calendar crowded with club meetings, art shows and entertainment offerings. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the island’s datebook Sept. 25 looked different from years past, with penciled-in Zoom meetings, canceled gatherings and postponed events.

And it was unclear that day how the governor’s decision moving the state into phase 3 of reopening would impact the event schedule.

One of the island’s largest annual events, the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce Bayfest, a street festival with live music and vendors, will not occur Oct. 19-20. Anna Maria commissioners revoked an event permit, leading the chamber to postpone — indefinitely — the party on Pine Avenue in Anna Maria.

The Anna Maria Island Concert Chorus and Orchestra announced earlier this year that it would not hold the Symphony on the Sand concert in early November.

AMICCO, in an August news release, stated the “intention is to continue with future performances of Symphony on the Sand in 2021.”

AMICCO also is looking ahead to 2021 for any concerts.

“At this date, we are waiting to see how all things COVID-related develop for the winter season before we announce any decisions for 2021,” Linda Burke, AMICCO’s executive director, said Sept. 22.

In September and October, arts organizations traditionally announce plans for fall-winter art walks and gallery receptions.

While galleries, including Island Gallery West and the Artists’ Guild Gallery in Holmes Beach, remain open with limited hours and exhibits, there were no announced art walks as of Sept. 25.

In any other fall, the Island Players would have staged one play and rehearsals would be ongoing for another, but Sept. 25 the community theater’s website lacked even a schedule for 2020-21.

“We are planning to begin our season in March but do not have details confirmed yet as to dates and plays,” Diane Phinney of the players said Sept. 23.

Meanwhile, the Offstage Ladies Auxiliary of the Island Players, a theater support group, had canceled the remainder of its 2020 meetings.

“We have toyed with the idea of possibly December but really cannot make that determination until early November,” said Ellen Devine. “Hoping to be back on schedule for 2021.”

In the spring, other community and social groups shifted to teleconference meetings using platforms such as Zoom.

Such meetings likely will continue through the fall for some, including the Anna Maria Island Garden Club.

“Sadly, there will be no in-person garden club meetings at Roser this year,” said Claudia Carlson, club president. “We expect to communicate with members through monthly webinars but at present those are not available to the general public.”

After the phase 3 announcement, Carlson confirmed the canceled meetings, stating that “the board and myself firmly believe in science.”

The Anna Maria Island Kiwanis Club, which was gathering Saturday mornings at the Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe in Holmes Beach, has not met for months and, as of Sept. 25, had no plans to meet.

“Due to the age of most of our members and that we still have several who are still up north, we’ve not started back with our meetings,” said Kiwanis representative Sandy Haas-Martens.

She said club president John Chappie, mayor of Bradenton Beach, may reevaluate in October.

Meanwhile, some island churches continued to hold worship services, Bible studies and other activities but none had announced general public events, including pancake breakfasts and rummage sales.

As of Sept. 25, St. Bernard Catholic Church awaited guidance from its diocese on holding breakfasts and sales and Roser Memorial Community Church’s leadership had not decided if it would fire up the griddle for Saturday breakfasts.

So, what’s on the community calendar?

The city of Anna Maria filled Tuesdays on the calendar beginning Oct. 13 and continuing into 2021 with a series of farmer markets at City Pier Park.

And the chamber scheduled its business awards in November.

“Tentative” marked dates for some other signature fall-winter events, including the chamber’s Trail of Treats at Halloween and the Christmas celebrations.

Clerks in each of the cities keep some of the best event calendars on the island because they handle applications and mark approval of event permits.

In Anna Maria, the only event on the city calendar was the city-sponsored market on Tuesdays.

In Holmes Beach, no large events were permitted as of Sept. 25 and one planned since last October — the National Night Out set for Oct. 3 — was canceled.

In Bradenton Beach, clerk Terri Sanclemente said the city had not considered permit requests for major events in the fall and winter, including the Anna Maria Island Privateers Christmas Parade held each December.

Still, community leaders seemed hopeful that 2020 would not be the year without a Santa Claus.