Get ready for Memorial Day weekend

Get ready for Memorial Day weekend
Prepare for a busy beach weekend. Memorial Day is one of the three busiest weekends of the year on the Island. - Jason Schaffer | Sun

ANNA MARIA ISLAND – It’s almost here – the unofficial start of the summer season, when large crowds visit the Island to soak up the sun and play in the sand.

Unlike the busy winter/spring season when people come from all over the world by plane, Memorial Day brings people from closer to the Island who arrive by car. This means long wait times to get on and off the Island at peak beach arrival and departure times as traffic can back up for miles waiting to cross the three bridges, the only ways on and off the Island.

Parking will also fill up fast, so city officials recommend arriving as early as possible to avoid the heaviest traffic and being patient when searching for the often elusive and highly coveted parking spot.

“I have three important reminders for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend,” Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said. “First, you are vacationing in a residential area, so please keep noise to a minimum. Second, be respectful of your surroundings and leave it cleaner than you found it. Third, always park with all tires off the road. Parallel parking is parking with the flow of traffic. Saying you didn’t see the sign or were not aware will not get a ticket voided.”

Holmes Beach police, along with Bradenton Beach police and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, which patrols the City of Anna Maria, all remind the public that no fires, grills, alcohol or pets are permitted on Island beaches. These laws are strictly enforced, and all three departments plan to increase the number of officers on patrol for the busy holiday weekend.

And don’t leave common sense at home.

“Remember to not put yourself in a position to be a victim of a crime of opportunity,” Bradenton Beach Police Lt. Lenard Diaz said. “Lock your car and don’t leave valuables in plain sight on car seats or places that entice criminals. Also, don’t bring valuables to the beach. Just bring what you need so you can relax and enjoy yourself.”