The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 10 No. 1 - September 30, 2009


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The historic Bradenton Beach city pier was built as bridge
to the mainland in 1921 and was the only way of
getting to the Island other than by boat.

In a previous life, the Bradenton Beach city pier was a bridge to somewhere.

Specifically, it linked the area now known as Bradenton Beach to the mainland.

At that time, in 1921, it was the only way to access Anna Maria Island other than by boat. The bridge is gone now, but the Bradenton Beach historic pier, which was on the Island-end of the bridge, remains as the city pier.

Last week, the bridge-turned-pier was recognized for its historic significance to the city and to the Island as a whole. Sissy Quinn, the administrator of the Anna Maria Island Preservation Trust, presented a plaque commemorating the status of the pier to city officials.

“This is part of our history,” said Bradenton Beach Mayor Michael Pierce. “It’s the Island side of the bridge. There were a lot of people involved in getting this type of recognition for the bridge. Annie Silver was the first woman to cross over to the mainland on the bridge.”

Pierce thanked Quinn and the Preservation Trust for working to place every building in the city that's 50 years old on the Master Site File in Tallahassee.

Quinn, dressed in period costume, officially presented the city with the plaque and a certificate.

She also announced that her organization, which was incorporated in March of this year, has been notified that they’ve been granted 501c3 status.

“The new status will enable the Trust to continue it’s work in documenting the homes that are 50 years or older on Anna Maria Island,” Quinn noted.

The next big project is to try to save the Angler’s Lodge near the Anna Maria city pier.

“The Lodge, circa 1914, played a vital role in the development of the Island prior to the first bridge in 1921, when prospective owners came to the Island by steamer and ferry to land at the Anna Maria city pier,” she said. “The Lodge has maintained its original footprint for almost 100 years and deserves the attention of those of us who love and respect the Island’s history.”

The Trust is working to raise the funds necessary to purchase the lodge and preserve it for the future. All donations to the preservation fund are now tax-deductible. Quinn will continue working to document structures more than 50 years old in all three Island cities.

Tax-deductible donations can be sent to The Whitney National Bank, 5324 Gulf Drive, Holmes Beach, 34217. In the memo line, write “The Angler’s Lodge Account.” To make a donation to the Preservation Trust organization, mail a check to P.O. Box 4106, Anna Maria, FL 34216.

Kids learn flu-fighting techniques
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE Maggie Carter washes her
hands with help from Miss Jenny, of Boar’s Head,
at Anna Maria Elementary School.

HOLMES BEACH – A hundred local kindergartners and first graders may know more about handwashing than most adults after their lesson last week.

Scratching your fingernails against your palms to get soap under them, scrubbing in between fingers and using a paper towel to turn off the water faucet were among the tips suggested by Miss Jenny and Miss Sarah, of Boar’s Head, who sponsored the special lesson.

They demonstrated that rinsing isn’t enough by coating Maggie Carter’s hands with cooking oil, pouring cinnamon on them to simulate dirt, and letting her rinse her hands in cold water.

Classmates shrieked at the messy results.

But using warm water and soap, and washing for at least 20 seconds, or the length of the “Alphabet Song,” produced much better results for student Ava Alderson, who got a round of applause.

Washing up before eating is no longer enough, especially with flu season and the swine flu threat just around the corner. The students learned that hand washing is especially important after activities such as handling shoes, which come in contact with the dirtiest dirt, playing with pets and bathroom breaks.

Students learned how to cough and sneeze into a sleeve instead of into their hands to minimize the spread of germs, and got to wear hair nets and frocks like those worn by employees to keep the deli at Publix clean. They also received pencils and pencil bags, to help keep their pencils cleaner.

The school has provided large containers of hand sanitizers in each classroom and at the front desk to protect students and teachers.

Wave skimmers hit beach on Sunday

BRADENTON BEACH – Skimboarders will make a splash at the Skim Bash on Sunday, Oct. 4 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the BeachHouse restaurant.

The amateur contest features beginners and experienced skimboarders and raises money for red tide research at Mote Marine Laboratory.

Contestants must register by Oct. 2. The entry fee is $30 with a $10 late fee. To register, call the West Coast Surf Shop at 778-1001 or stop by at 3902 Gulf Drive in Holmes Beach.

All entrants will receive a T-shirt, goodie bag, lunch and one raffle ticket. Trophies will be awarded to the top three competitors in all divisions and prizes will be awarded to the top four places in all divisions.

Divisions are minis (8 and under), menehunes (9-11), boys (12-14), junior men (15-17), men (18-21), senior men (22 and up), girls (14 and under) and women (15 and up).

The annual event is sponsored by the West Coat Surf Shop, the BeachHouse restaurant, the Anna Maria Island Sun newspaper, Zap Skim’ers, Manatee Apparel Graphics, Lost, Australian Gold, Oakley, Rusty, Arnette, Roxy, Quiksilver, Volcom, Dakine, Smith Optics, Raisins and Anarchy/Angel.

Island Players: 60 years of entertainment
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

This building was barged to the Island from Parrish in the early
1900s and served as a toutist center, a church, a school and a
community hall before becoming the Island Playhouse.

ANNA MARIA – The Island Players were born when the Women’s Club of Anna Maria asked distinguished playwright, actor and director Harold Igo to stage a play for one of their meetings.

The year was 1949 and the play, “The Preacher Takes a Wife,” was such a hit that the women asked Igo to form a theater company. Igo and a few dedicated theater lovers met in the town’s community hall.

“An organizational meeting of a little theater group was held Thursday evening at the Anna Maria Community Hall,” said an article in the Bradenton Herald dated Dec. 12, 1949. “A dozen or more people were in attendance.

“Roger Stonehouse was elected president, Alfred Martin, treasurer, and Harold Igo named as director. Casting will be made soon for the first offering, which will be a one-act play.”

That play was “Ladies in Retirement,” selected by the officers and director after reading 12 plays. It was performed in 1950, and Stonehouse made the following statement at the initial performance, “And so we are encouraged to make our debut, not to strut, not be impressive, but to afford a source of entertainment for the whole Island by the abundant talent of the Island.”

Players grow

The Players thrived, performing one or two plays a season, and theatergoers sat on webbed folding chairs, which could be removed after each performance. Props, scenery and costumes were stored in the Old City Jail.

On the group’s 10th anniversary, Igo said. “Ten years ago, a dozen people met in the community hall to found the Island Players. Our stage was a tiny platform. We had no curtains and no scenery, but we had enthusiasm.

“Looking back over the years is like reading a bundle of old love letters, for the theater is a love affair. If you love it, nothing else matters, neither heat nor cold, hunger nor thirst.”

In 1950s, actor and director Helen Peters came to the Island from Minnesota as a winter resident and became active in the theater. In 1962,when she moved to the Island permanently, she became an integral part of the theater. In 1966, Peters took over as director when Igo retired.

“There was absolutely nothing backstage,” she recalled of the early days. “The wind would whistle through the cracks in the walls. It was cold in the winter and hot in the summer, since there was no air conditioning or heat.

“We would string up a sheet for a makeshift dressing room. The actors were dedicated and I had courage. I didn’t know the meaning of the word can’t.”

Fixing a hall

The hall, which was barged to the Island from Parrish in the early 1900s, had served as a meeting hall, church and school, was in constant need of repairs. There was talk of demolishing the building and constructing a new theater, but eventually the Players decided to rehabilitate the old building.

In the 1970s, Neal Uber, who was president of the Players and her husband, Jay, teamed up to lead the rehabilitation effort. The Players embarked on a series of events to raise funds for the project.

A four-year program in three phases was developed. The first phase included installing air conditioning, painting the building and coating the roof with foam insulation.

The second phase added a professional stage and increased the seating. The third phase added a foyer, facilities for a manager, bathrooms, dressing rooms and a front entrance.

In 1972, the Offstage Ladies was formed and 22 interested ladies met at Pete Reynard’s restaurant for a luncheon. Their first project was new curtains and they organized a rummage sale to pay for it. Through the years, they have provided the theater with rugs, seats, lighting and sound equipment and other necessities.

Repertoire and building expand

In1982, Peters invited Welsh actor Gareth Gibbs to the Island and asked him to bring some of his players. He brought seven of his group and they performed two plays at the Playhouse. They became known as the Welsh Players and have returned many times since to perform for Island audiences.

At the Playhouse’s 40-year mark, a series of fundraisers, including an Island Playhouse Fair with artists, craftsmen and entertainers and dinners at local restaurants, were held to benefit the building fund. Funds were used to add a 16-foot wide extension on the northeast side to expand the dressing rooms and storage area, a new box office and a wider ramp.

In 1989, the Players received an unexpected but welcome surprise due to the efforts of state Rep. Peggy Simone – a $15,000 state grant. The grant money was used to put an addition on the building, which included a sewing room and dressing rooms.

In the 1990s, the Anna Maria Beautification Committee began the Island Walk project, a personalized brick walkway around the Playhouse. Proceeds were used to install a native landscape around the theater and city hall.

Through the years renovations have continued, the latest of which are a new lighting system, new carpeting and new seats.

Into the future

Current Island Players President Dolores Harrell praised the group’s board members and volunteers as integral to its success.

“We have a very active board,” she pointed out. "Everyone plays a role in the theater and makes a significant contribution.

“We also have so many dedicated volunteers and we get a great deal of support from the Offstage Ladies. We are so lucky to have such talented people who want to come do things for us.”

Harrell said her goal as president is to reintroduce the Island Players to the community.

“We have loyal patrons, but there are so many new people who don’t know about us,” she explained. “I’d like to invite everyone who has never been here to come check us out. Anytime the box office is open, they can come in for a tour.”

The Players' 61st season opens Oct. 8 with Neil Simon’s “London Suite.”

KMB recognizes Island beautification
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Karen Newhall accepted the Leave Your Mark
Keep America Beautiful award for the school.

BRADENTON – Island governments, neighborhoods, organizations and its school were winners in the annual Keep Manatee Beautiful awards luncheon held last week at the Bradenton Country Club.

Anna Maria Elementary School received the Leave Your Mark Keep America Beautiful award for elementary schools. The Leave Your Mark program was created at Manatee High School in 2006 to promote awareness about littering on school grounds and encourage students to maintain their campuses.

Third-grade teacher Karen Newhall accepted the award and told the group, “The students and our staff are actively involved in our environmental program. Each grade has a garden that they help plan, plant and maintain.

“These include a butterfly garden, one that has edible food, a rain garden that filters out impurities from rain water, an estuary walk that circles around out school to the bay and a sensory garden.

She said the students compost food and plant scraps and recycle plastic and paper. A green team collects recycling bins and the school participates in the coastal cleanup.

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society received the award for Landscaping – Public Open Spaces. These are landscapes that surpass the norm for design, maintenance, neighborhood enhancement, community awareness and the use of natives and drought tolerant plants.

“ We’re very proud of our walkway,” Vice President Betty Yanger said. “We want to thank Tim Eiseler and the city’s environmental committee for getting the grant to provide the plaques to identify the plants.”

The three Island code enforcement officers received the Public Service award for encouraging residents and businesses to comply with the codes regarding litter disposal, illegal dumping, signage and landscaping.

Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford accepted the Neighborhood Communities award for the Shore Acres subdivision and a certificate of appreciation to the city for Outstanding Landscaping in its Pine Avenue parking lot.

The Longboat Key Turtle Watch received the Outstanding Volunteer Group award for shore cleanup.

Second duck hit by car
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

PHOTO PROVIDED Marshmallow and The Mohican stoll
with their chicks at Holmes Beach City Hall.

Life is getting dangerous for a group of ducks that live around Holmes Beach City Hall and the Island Branch Library.

For the second time in two months, a car has hit one of the ducks that call the area home. The driver didn’t bother to stop on either occasion.

The first time the duck died. The second time, on Friday, the duck, named Fred, disappeared with his mate, Wilma, before anyone could determine if he was injured or how badly.

However, on Monday, Fred and Wilma were spotted roaming the city hall/library grounds by several people and appear to be in good health.

Another family of ducks, The Mohican and his mate, Marshmallow, and their four chicks, continue to roam the area.

Business owners and residents in the area have complained that people don’t stop for the ducks when they cross the road. Some have suggested that a Duck Crossing sign be installed to protect the ducks.

Crab study under way
Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
wants help finding horseshoe crab nesting beaches
like this one. PHOTO PROVIDED BY FWC

Horseshoe crabs may not be quite as cute as sea turtles, but they are a valuable part of the coastal ecology, and their declining numbers have prompted scientists to monitor their nesting beaches, too.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute needs to hear from anyone who finds a horseshoe crab nesting beach.

Researchers collect data on the number of horseshoe crabs spotted, how many were juveniles (four inches wide or smaller), whether the crabs were mating, habitat conditions and the date, time and location of the sighting.

Despite their long, thin, spiky tails, horseshoe crabs are harmless and use their tails mainly to flip themselves upright if they are overturned.

They are not true crabs at all; they are more closely related to arachnids like spiders and scorpions than to crustaceans like crabs, lobsters and shrimp. They have changed very little from the fossils of their ancestors, which date back more than 350 million years – before the age of the dinosaurs.

Horseshoe crab research has benefited humans in several ways. Studies of their compound eyes have led to a better understanding of human vision, and their blood is used to test for bacterial contamination in commercial drugs and medical equipment because it coagulates in the presence of bacteria. In addition, horseshoe crab shells are used to make contact lenses, skin creams and hair sprays.

To report nesting beaches, fill out the online survey at, email or call 866-252-9326.

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