ANNA MARIA ISLAND – More than 120 participants in the annual Anna Maria Island Privateers Fourth of July Parade loaded their vehicles with water guns to do battle with thousands of people lining the parade route.
Beginning at Coquina Beach at the south end of the Island and finishing on Pine Avenue in the north, some parade participants had containers holding more than 100 gallons of water, but parade watchers also were well stocked for what has become known as Florida’s biggest and longest water battle.
“We had more than 80 Jeeps in this year’s parade, in addition to the other participants that made this one of, if not the biggest, Fourth of July parades we have ever had,” Anna Maria Island Privateers President Kim Boyd said. “It was so much fun.”
Every July Fourth, it is understood that standing along the parade route will result in getting wet, but this year, it appeared that people watching the parade were especially prepared.
“We live in St. Pete and have heard about this parade and how much fun it is,” Jalene Hummer said. “We brought plenty of water, a tent and plenty of “Super Soakers” to fight back against the parade, and it was every bit as much fun as we thought it would be. This parade was huge, the best we have ever been to.”
Both locals and visitors seemed to enjoy getting soaked, especially since temperatures were well into the 90s even when the parade began at 10 a.m.
“It’s so hot here, what a great idea to cool things down for a parade,” said Jason Kabler, of Jacksonville, North Carolina. “We didn’t come with water guns because we knew nothing about it. We just got here yesterday, but we happily let them hit us as they passed by; it felt good.”
The Anna Maria Island Privateers are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that has been in existence for 52 years and has donated over $500,000 in scholarships to local high school students. They also contribute to many other charities, adopt families at Christmas, participate in community events, as well as promote children’s activities and reading events.