Vol 5 No. 44 - July 20, 2005

Chamber to coordinate holiday events

From left to right: Anna Maria Mayor SueLynn, Holmes Beach Mayor Carol Whitmore, Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie and Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Don Schroder are working together.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer

HOLMES BEACH – Don't call it consolidation; call it cooperation.

The mayors of the three Island cities have been meeting recently with Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce President Don Schroder to discuss coordination of all the events between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day that make up the holiday season on the Island.

Schroder said they have agreed that each city will host at least one event and that all the events will be labeled Islandwide celebrations in an attempt to draw residents across city limits to attend each one.

The events include the Christmas Prelude, to be renamed the Holiday Prelude, in Bradenton Beach; the Privateers Christmas Parade that starts in Anna Maria and ends in Bradenton Beach; and the Holiday Walk at the shopping centers that surround the intersection of Gulf Drive and Marina Drive. Also to be included are the Holiday Boat Parade, the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Chamber office and the Anna Maria Island Art League Winterfest at Holmes Beach city field.

Schroder said the Chamber became interested in coordinating the events about four years ago and that he had talked with the mayors of all three cities over the years, but this summer they got together to put their ideas on paper.

Bradenton Beach Mayor John Chappie said he told Schroder he wanted the Prelude, which is held on Thanksgiving evening, to be an all-Island event.

"There are going to be changes to the Prelude this year," he said. "I got positive feedback from my city commission that the city will pay for it (Sun, July 13)."

Chappie said he would like to see holiday lighting contests in all three cities, although they would not have to be at the same time. Bradenton Beach normally has one to coincide with the Prelude, although there was not one last year due to time and financial constraints. Schroder agreed, saying they could have contests among homeowners as well as business owners.

Elizabeth Christie, treasurer of the Anna Maria Island Privateers, said they are voting on their schedule for next year soon and that she could send it to the Chamber when it is approved so they could incorporate the Privateers into the planning. Schroder said he would like to get the information from all other organizations that plan events during the year, including the Kiwanis, the Rotary Club, Anna Maria Elementary School and local churches.

"We could publish a calendar of events so that people could either get one at the Chamber or call us to see what is going on," he said.

The Island Sun will publish the calendar and continue to list upcoming events in its Town Crier section as well.

The mayors will continue to meet to work out the details as they and Schroder pull the three Island communities closer toward cooperation, not consolidation.

That's something the people might decide one day.

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