SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD Community Center Teen Scene members
Richard Hynds, Julian Botero, Jonah Caster and Sarah Howard
sit in a sculpted sand couch at the Concert in the Park
in Holmes Beach.
BRADENTON BEACH – The first of six weeks without use of the Anna Maria Island Bridge went relatively well with no major problems, but all eyes in the business community were on the upcoming weekend – the first featuring Bridging the Gap activities.
Some businesses were up and some were down, but the major affect might be in the way people, both on and off the Island, perceive the situation.
It all began with the Bridge Street Market in Bradenton Beach. Organizer Nancy Ambrose said it was a success.
"We had a great turnout," she said, "The vendors were pretty much full and I think they all did well. They were pleased and talked about coming back to the next one."
Ambrose said that one of the 32 vendors sold honey-smoked mullet. She said there were a lot of locals there who she thinks will remember the market every other Saturday morning as the holiday season approaches.
"One vendor, Orban Nursery, said they would be bringing poinsettias to sell at future markets," she said.
Ambrose said in addition to the locals, they had people from as far as Tampa who had heard about Bridging the Gap and the Bridge Street Market from TV news.
"I talked with the owner of Art Attack, next door to us, who said he was really pleased at the turnout and the business he was doing," she said. "He said it had been really slow up until then."
Teeing it up
And then, just down the street, the Fish Hole Mini Golf Course held its golf tournament. Course manager Dana Snell said they were very pleased with the crowd.
"We had 36 people registered and the majority of the people were from the mainland," he said. "The players were all competing for some pretty nice prizes."
The first place winner was Jeff Cavanaugh, who took home $200. Steve LaParl took second place after a sudden death playoff and won $100 cash.
"We’re hoping to have more tournaments in the future," Snell said. "I’d also like to form some leagues."
Next came pickleball at the Anna Maria Island Community Center where players from the Center’s league demonstrated this popular new game to people who were interested.
Concert in the Park
The weekend’s activities ended with the Concert in the Park next to Holmes Beach City Hall, where Karen LaPensee and her husband, Mike, had a blast.
"It’s such a positive thing, people coming together for the Island," she said. "We were fortunate with the weather, the band changeovers were done quickly, we heard some music we had never heard before and we stayed to the bitter end."
Paulie Hoffmann, owner of Hurricane Hank’s, had praise for music festival organizer Mark Kimball.
‘Mark did a great job," he said. "Everyone had a great time."
The only disappointment might have come from those who wanted the music to go later than 7 p.m., but there was a glitch.
"There aren’t any lights in the field," said Holmes Beach Mayor Rich Bohnenberger. "They would have been playing in the dark."
Bohnenberger said neighbors might have gotten upset also.
"We had only five complaints," he said. "One to me, one to Billie Martini and three to the police."
Melinda Benson, who drove in from Bradenton, said, “It was a breeze getting to the Island. I love it out here and nothing is going to stop me from my weekends at the beach.”
As the afternoon wore on and a nice breeze blew through, crowds continued to gather and people got into the Island spirit.
“I heard the music from my house (on Key Royale) and jumped in my car to get down here,” said Peggy Vidas. “This is just great.”
Marcia Neumayer, of Holmes Beach, added, “It was fun to see everybody you know. I liked the Billy Rice Band and I definitely would attend if they do this again next year.”