Tag Archives: Featured Image

Privateers krewe 'captures’ Bradenton Beach, takes ransom

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Anna Maria Island Privateers president Kim “Syren” Boyd, center with knife, alongside her krewe Jan. 8, cuts the ribbon to launch the party with Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce representatives, including chamber president Terri Kinder, left. The krewe and the chamber kicked off the Privateers’ 50th anniversary celebration in the city of Bradenton Beach. Islander Photos: Ryan Paice
Anna Maria Island Privateers Terry “Cookie” Rapert and John “Lil’ Jon Arrr” Rutherford chain Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jake Spooner Jan. 8 to the mast of their ship, the “Skullywag,” while “capturing” city hall. The Privateers raised $650 “ransoming” Spooner. The nonprofit, established in 1971 to raise money for kids and the community, captured the city as part of its 50-year Golden Jubilee celebration.
Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh reads a proclamation naming Jan. 8 “Anna Maria Island Privateers Day” and declaring 2021 the “Year of the Privateers,” while Jamie “Capt. One Eye” Van Deusen looks on. Vosburgh gifted a key to the city to Van Deusen and the Privateers to honor the nonprofit’s charitable activities.
Privateer Jamie “Capt. One Eye” Van Deusen Jan. 8 raises a plaque holding the key to the city of Bradenton Beach in celebration. Privateers captured the city and made ransom demands, including the key to the city, which was turned over by Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jan Vosburgh.
Privateer John “Lil’ Jon Arrr” Rutherford waves his hat Jan. 8, calling for “ransom” to release Bradenton Beach Commissioner Jake Spooner, who was “captured” and “chained” to the Skullywag mast during the event.
Privateer Travis “Psychic” Sparkman, left, serves refreshments Jan. 8 to the group of people who gathered to join the nonprofit’s “capture” of city hall.
Anna Maria Island Privateers representatives Tim “Hammer” Thompson and Terry “Cookie” Rapert state their demands Jan. 7 to Bradenton Beach commissioners in advance of their “Capture” of city hall the next day.

C’mon in! The water’s fine for a plunge — and some charity

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Nearly 100 people — some in costume, some in swimsuits — splash Jan. 1 in the Gulf waters to raise money for charity as part of Clancy’s 13th annual Shamrock Shiver.
New Year’s celebrants splash Jan. 1 into the Gulf of Mexico for the 13th annual Shamrock Shiver. The charity event hosted by Clancy’s Irish Sports Pub, 6218 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, has raised more than $273,500 over the years. Islander Photos: Amy V.T. Moriarty
James Lightfoot, left, as Ace Ventura, Superwoman RuthAnn Hopkins and Barry Hopkins, the chicken, enjoy a few laughs while waiting for the plunge.
Barry Hopkins of Bradenton lays an egg Jan. 1 while waiting to plunge into the Gulf of Mexico for the 13th annual Shamrock Shiver.
James Lightfoot, left dressed as Ace Ventura, and RuthAnn Hopkins ready themselves Jan. 1 to plunge into the Gulf along with nearly 100 others who took part in the 13th annual Shamrock Shiver.
Madeline, 3, left, and mom, Karen Haacke, check out the sand before plunging into the Gulf. Madeline first participated as a 3-month-old, and she’s plunged every year since.
A group of friends take a few minutes Jan. 1 to splash around in the Gulf after charging in for the 13th annual Shamrock Shiver.
Rayme Stowe, left, owner of Clancy’s, poses on the beach with her best friend, Lisa Pierce, before the Jan. 1 13th annual Shamrock Shiver sponsored by Clancy’s. Stowe and Pierce helped start up the Shamrock Shiver Charity Plunge.

Running headlong into the Gulf of Mexico was a great way to start 2021.

Nearly 100 people thought so, anyway, as they gathered Jan. 1 on the shore at Cortez Beach, between Fourth and Twelfth streets south along Gulf Drive in Bradenton Beach, for Clancy’s 13th annual Shamrock Shiver.

Though the noon sky was clear and the temperature on the beach 82 degrees, plunger James Lightfoot of Bradenton said the water was cold.

“This is the first time I did this, and the water was cold, but I’m glad I did it,” Lightfoot said after emerging from the Gulf.

NOAA’s water temperature table for the Gulf of Mexico put the temp at about 65 degrees.

Lightfoot, dressed as Ace Ventura, was one of more than a dozen people dressed in costume for a crowd-judged contest.

What got the most laughs and love from the crowd? A group of friends donning costumes and holding signs that expressed their opinion of 2020.

Mark Gritz wore an inflatable poop emoji costume while his wife, Patty, was made up as a bottle of hand sanitizer and friends Robert Nott and Shona LaBaff wore giant rolls of toilet paper messages.

Barry Hopkins dressed as a chicken and laid (dropped) yellow plastic eggs on the beach to the onlookers' delight. His wife, RuthAnn, arrived as Superwoman “to save the day.”

Other costumed plungers taking part in the contest were dinosaurs, a man in a hospital gown open in back to reveal a fake tush and some hula dancers.

The plunge began in 2009 with a group of friends who frequented Clancy’s outdoor Tiki Bar and preferred to do something fun to raise money for charity as an alternative to the traditional holiday parties, Rayma Stowe said.

Stowe — past proprietor of the Rod & Reel Pier —  is a founding member of the event and her Bradenton restaurant and bar, Clancy’s Irish Pub and Sports Bar, 6218 Cortez Road W., Bradenton, annually sponsors and hosts the event, which includes an after-party with music, raffles and food and beverages.

“It’s a fun way to start the new year,” Stowe said.

“And it keeps us off the streets New Year’s Eve,” joked Lisa Pierce, Stowe’s friend and another founder of the charity event.

Over the years, Clancy’s has helped raise $273,500 with the Shamrock Shiver.

The Islander newspaper was a sponsor this year.

The 2020 shiver proceeds, which Stowe estimated at more than $25,000, will be divided among four local charities: The Blessing Bags Project, Feeding Empty Little Tummies, Healthy Teens Coalition of Manatee County and Parenting Matters.

Donations will be accepted until at least Jan. 8 — either at Clancy’s or online at clancysirishsportspub.com, Pierce said.

For more information, go to clancysirishsportspub.com or call Stowe at 941-720-4072.

Pier opening ‘best’ 2020 gift for islanders

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An angler wets his line Dec. 23 at the T-end of the Anna Maria City Pier as a paddleboarder pushes along in the bay. The pier and its grill and bait shop fully opened earlier in December. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
Local musician Trevor Bystrom, on guitar, and percussionist James Hershey entertain Dec. 23 at the T-end of the new Anna Maria City Pier, where people were dining and enjoying libations from the City Pier Grill & Bait Shop. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice

People on Anna Maria Island enjoyed one of 2020’s best gifts months before the holiday season came around.

The new Anna Maria City Pier opened on a limited basis in June for the first time since Hurricane Irma closed the historic pier in September 2017, but full access to the $6.8 million structure and its grill and bait shop opened earlier in December — just in time for the holidays.

Multiple city officials, including Mayor Dan Murphy and Commissioner Mark Short, named the pier’s completion the city’s top accomplishment of 2020.

“The opening of the Anna Maria City Pier, now with its grill and bait shop, is the best gift the city could give to island residents and visitors at this time of year,” Commissioner Carol Carter told The Islander Dec. 23.

The attraction was packed with visitors and anglers despite a chilly December breeze the day before Christmas Eve.

Island-themed tunes hummed from the T-end’s loudspeakers, broken up only by the grill’s occasional order announcements and the sound of anglers casting their lines.

Tampa-resident Marion Muffie, with a fishing pole in hand, told The Islander her family hadn’t had much luck fishing at the T-end, but was enjoying it regardless.

“The only thing we caught today was a shell,” Muffie said with a chuckle. “But we’re just crappy at fishing! We’re having a good time.”

She added that they visit the area a couple of times a year to fish at the end of the pier but hadn’t visited since the historic pier was shut down.

“We’ve been coming down here for years, so we were really pleased to hear the pier was open again,” Muffie said. “We love it out here. It’s just special.”

Chicago-resident Isaiah Rosas told The Islander that he caught a few mullet, which he kept in a bucket of water to his side, but didn’t have a knife to clean the fish, so he’d probably have to toss them back.

Regardless, Rosas said he was enjoying fishing at the pier while visiting family on the island. He called the pier one of the best fishing spots on the island, adding that he missed the pier in prior visits when it was closed.

“I love having the pier back,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to get out here and go fishing and I think it looks amazing.”

Sarasota-resident Kim Schmeits, sipping a beverage outside the bait shop window, told The Islander that — despite living nearby — the pier is his “little getaway.”

“We just hop up here occasionally,” Schmeits said. “We love it here. It’s very relaxed.”

“We live in paradise, right? But we come here and feel a little bit like we’re on vacation,” Schmeits added.

By 5 p.m., the canned island-style music floating across the T-end gave way to live music by Trevor Bystrom and percussionist James Hershey, “island-grown” musicians who perform at a variety of island venues.

Fishing coincides with the grill and bait shop hours, which are 7 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays and 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

School for Constructive Play kids get crafty for Christmas

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Little elves sing Christmas songs Students in the 4- and 5-year-old class wear elf costumes Dec. 11 to perform “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” for a video sent to families.
School for Constructive Play students Ella Melancon, left, and Jackson Griffin use their foot- and handprints Dec. 11 to make Christmas trees and reindeer faces on canvas for their parents. The school is housed at but not affiliated with Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. Islander Courtesy Photos: SCP/Pam Bertrand
Emmy Lewetag, left, Willow Palmer and Quinn Whiteside sit under the student-made Christmas tree Dec. 11 with a favorite holiday storybook.
Grady Neidzwick, left, Alianna Hopkins and Lennon Hensley show off their snowperson art made using handprints.
Cora Cole, left, and Juleitte Sato laugh while making snowperson cards for their families. They used handprints to make the cover art.

Students at the School for Constructive Play used their hands and feet to create holiday-inspired art gifts for their families.

The 4- and 5-year-old class used footprints to make Christmas trees and handprints to make a reindeer face, said Pam Bertrand, owner of the preschool at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach.

The 3-year-old class made “mistletoes” using footprints connected at the heels and pointed downward to form bells.

While the 1- and 2-year-old class made “I love you snow much” snowpeople.

Their paintings were done on canvas to be long-term keepsakes, Bertrand said.

In addition to “working hard on their surprises” for family, Bertrand said students in December kept their eyes on the school Elf on the Shelf, whom they named “M.”

“We’re all excited for Santa,” she added. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the jolly elf can’t visit the school as he’s done in years past, but students remained excited because “they know he’s coming to their houses,” Bertrand said.

The school also produced its annual holiday show for their families but adjusted due to the pandemic.

Rather than a schoolwide in-person performance, a video was made of each class performance and sent to parents, Bertrand said.

The 4- and 5-year-old class wore elf costumes and sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” while the 3-year-old class performance was a dance to holiday music, Bertrand said.

For more, call the school at 941-778-2210.

Burgers, beer, music return to Anna Maria City Pier

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About 30 people are among the first to eat, drink and make merry at the new Anna Maria City Pier Grill on the new pier at 101 Bay Blvd., Anna Maria. The city built the new pier 2018-20 to replace the original pier, built in 1911 and demolished following damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. The grill opened Dec. 10.
Brian Seymour, left, owner of the Pine Avenue General Store, Victor Mattay of Dips Ice Cream and Nick Graham of Pine Avenue Bait and Tackle — the trio comprising GSM Partners, the company operating the new grill and bait shop at the Anna Maria City Pier — celebrate their Dec. 10 opening. “We are just overjoyed that we got it ready and can start serving food, drinks and treats on the pier to our visitors and locals,” Mattay said. For more photos, turn to page 2 or go to islander.org. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
Brian Seymour, member of GSM Partners LLC, bumps fists with charter fishing Capt. Sam Major of Holmes Beach as Major enjoys a sweet treat at the new takeout grill on the Anna Maria City Pier.
Mom and kids from the Roadman family of Holmes Beach check out their menu options at the window Dec. 10 before placing an order at the new Anna Maria City Pier Grill. Islander Photos: ChrisAnn Allen
Eric Hunsader and Nies Wand of Holmes Beach are among the first people to receive their orders from the new grill at the Anna Maria City Pier.

Islanders — and visitors — now can soak up the food, beverages and vibes missed by so many at the Anna Maria City Pier.

“This is a very exciting day for everybody,” Victor Mattay, part-owner of GSM Partners, the city’s tenants at the new grill and bait shop at the pier, said opening day Dec. 10. “We are really happy to put a great product and awesome atmosphere out here for everyone now.”

Mattay, owner of Dips Ice Cream, is one of three entrepreneurs, including former Anna Maria Commissioner Brian Seymour, owner of the Pine Avenue General Store; and Nick Graham, owner of Pine Avenue Bait and Tackle, operating the grill and bait shop on the new city pier at 101 Bay Blvd.

The opening was much anticipated as the city first had to rebuild the pier — built in 1911, damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017 and demolished by the city in 2018 — and negotiate construction and a tenant for food, beverages and bait, with a rebuild lasting nearly three years.

“It’s done and I’m elated with what we all were able to accomplish,” Dean Jones, Anna Maria public works manager, said Dec. 10. “Taking down the old pier and building the new one was an amazing learning process. I am happy that we have a tenant that will be the perfect fit for our new pier.”

Jones and the rest of the city’s public works crew maintain the pier, which involves regular cleaning and ensuring lighting and public restrooms are safe.

“People come from all around the world to walk this pier. It becomes part of their memories that are shared with their kids and grandkids,” Jones said. “And now it is back for all of us to enjoy.”

Since reopening to fishers and sightseers June 19, pier access was limited to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, while awaiting full-time operations to coincide with the grill and bait shop hours after its opening.

James Roadman, Holmes Beach resident and owner of Solid Rock Construction — the contractor for the grill buildout — said it was a challenge to work on the pier, but one he was excited to meet thanks to his love for the island community.

“Dealing with the weather and salt atmosphere was unique,” Roadman said. “It was definitely an event. We were working night-and-day here to get it open for our community. This is our hometown and we know how much people have missed being able to fully enjoy the pier for all it could be.”

Les Parker of Riverview, a resident of the Tampa Bay area for 73 years, said he used to head to the north end of the island as a kid to spend time with friends.

“The island has definitely changed since that time,” Parker said. “I used to just hang out with my friends on the beach. This new pier is fantastic. I can see myself making new memories here.”


In short order

Breakfast, lunch, dinner and sweet treats, with local and fresh beverages, including beer and wine, are served 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily on the Anna Maria City Pier.

— ChrisAnn Allen

Anna Maria names new commissioner

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Anna Maria city clerk Leanne Addy, right, administers the oath of office to new Commissioner Doris “Deanie” Sebring Dec. 3 — carrying her diabetic alert dog Humphrey — into a two-year term. The board voted earlier to appoint Sebring to succeed Amy Tripp, who resigned in August. Islander Photo: Ryan Paice
Sharon Wisniewski, one of two candidates for appointment to the Anna Maria City Commission, addresses commissioners Dec. 3.
Anna Maria city clerk Leanne Addy, left, swears Dan Murphy into his fourth two-year term as mayor. Murphy retained office without opposition in the November election.
Anna Maria city clerk Leanne Addy, right, swears in Mark Short to his first two-year term as a city commissioner. He was appointed to the commission in 2019 to complete the remainder of Brian Seymour’s term. He was unopposed in his bid to retain the seat.

An empty seat on the Anna Maria City Commission was filled after a three-month vacancy.

Commissioners voted Dec. 3 to appoint Doris “Deanie” Sebring to a two-year term. She took the seat vacated in August by Commissioner Amy Tripp.

Commissioners Jonathan Crane, Joe Muscatello and Mark Short ranked Sebring as the top candidate over Sharon Wisniewski, the other candidate for the seat.

Commission Chair Carol Carter ranked Wisniewski over Sebring.

Tripp qualified to run for reelection without opposition earlier this year, but shortly after she announced she was moving to  North Carolina and in August resigned from the commission.

Commissioners agreed to leave Tripp’s seat open until her term expired in November, allowing them to appoint a two-year successor.

Both applicants for the seat, Sebring and Wisniewski, attended the meeting and were given five minutes to address the commission before voting began.

Mayor Dan Murphy drew a name from a bowl to determine who would speak first, and Sebring won the draw.

A Louisiana native, Sebring told commissioners of her experience in the business world as general manager of an auto dealership and creator of a product to help reunite people with their lost keys.

She also wrote a children’s book, “Skip and Deanie’s Flying Bike Trip,” which is based on the imaginary adventures of herself and her real-life diabetic alert dog.

Sebring said Skip, her dog when she wrote the book, had died, and she was carrying a new diabetic alert dog, Humphrey, in a sling across her chest.

She said her priorities as commissioner would be to maintain the city’s home rule in regulating short-term vacation rentals and improving pedestrian and traffic safety.

“I have no hidden agenda or political interests other than serving the community,” Sebring said. “And I love this island just as much as anyone here in this room.”

Wisniewski told the commission she and her husband served in the U.S. military and moved to Anna Maria in 2015.

She said she is qualified to serve as commissioner as a former officer in the military, where she developed skills and gained a wide breadth of knowledge to fulfill her duties.

Wisniewski also noted she is personally invested in the business community through her daughter, who is associated with a Pine Avenue business, Pizza Social.

She added that she hadn’t considered joining the commission until there was an unexpected absence.

“When I saw there was a need,” Wisniewski said, that’s what moved me to “step up to the plate.”

After the candidates finished their remarks, Anna Maria resident Dusty Crane spoke in support of Sebring during public comment.

“She is an outstanding individual,” Crane said.

The appointment process included a ranking system for each of the candidates.

Sebring won the point ranking.

“I’m excited about the future of the city and helping play a role in it,” Sebring told The Islander after the meeting.

In other matters, Mayor Dan Murphy and Commissioner Mark Short were sworn in at the Dec. 3 meeting, having won reelection without opposition.

Carol Carter was reinstated as commission chair and Short became deputy chair.

The next scheduled commission meeting will be at noon Jan. 21, at city hall, 10005 Gulf Drive.

It’s beginning to look a lot like …

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The 2020 Christmas season kicks off, as in the past, with a local Small Business Saturday sale. Shoppers, many in masks, selected their holiday plants Nov. 28 at Orban’s Nursery in northwest Bradenton, where the grower held its traditional, annual Poinsettia Sale. Also, the nursery, 9601 Ninth Ave. NW, will operate a Monday-Friday market through the end of the year, opening 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Islander Courtesy Photo
Debbie and Rob Carr of west Bradenton visit Orban’s Nursery, 9601 Ninth Ave. NW, Bradenton, during the grower’s annual Nov. 28 Poinsettia Sale. Orban’s, which has its roots on Anna Maria Island, holds the sale every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Islander Courtesy Photos
Poinsettias fill Orban’s screen-covered field with red. The business held its annual poinsettia sale Nov. 28, keeping a tradition in pandemic times. The nursery also supplies retailers with poinsettias during the holiday season. For more information, call Orban’s at 941-792-8717.
Piper sizes up a potted poinsettia at Orban’s Nursery, which Nov. 28 held its annual open house, featuring poinsettias for sale, vendors and music by island entertainer Trevor Bystrom.
Shelby Counihan Designs of Bradenton created the “Greetings from” card that is for sale at the annual poinsettia event at Orban’s, a destination for west Bradenton.

Thanksgiving sand: Renourishment nears completion at Longboat Pass

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People line the beach Nov. 17 at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach — seaward side of a pipe carrying sand for the beach replenishment project that started July 8 near 77th Street in Holmes Beach and ends at Longboat Pass, the southernmost tip of Anna Maria Island. David Ruderman, communications representative for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a funding source for the $17 million project, wrote The Islander Nov. 16 that completion was planned for Nov. 20. “They’re getting close, despite the storms,” Ruderman wrote. Islander Photo: ChrisAnn Allen