TOM VAUGHT | SUN
Ryan Levi, 16 months old, checks out this
pirate at the Anna Maria Privateers’ scholarship
ceremony at the Anna Maria Beach Cafe.
If the annual Fourth of July parade gets any bigger, we might have to call the networks.
It’s hard to impress your out-of-town friends and visitors with our quaint little parade when it gets this large, but some might consider this a good problem to have.
The parade was a mile-long chain of cars, trucks, golf carts and Segways inching up the Island with participants throwing beads and candy to the people on the side of the road.
“We signed up 141 people and a bunch more just joined the parade without signing up,” said Anna Maria Island Privateer Tim “Hammer” Thompson. “It looks like the largest parade we’ve ever had.”
The entire holiday week and weekend were completely jammed, as tens of thousands of visitors stuffed themselves onto the beaches and into motel rooms and rentals. Traffic gridlock was common, with motorists backed up from the Palma Sola Causeway all the way up into Anna Maria. Estimates of drive times from Pine Avenue to the Anna Maria Island Bridge ranged from 90 minutes to two hours.
On July 4, after the parade snaked its way to Bayfront Park, it disbanded and the Privateers and a number of participants reconvened at Anna Maria Island Beach Café to watch recipients receive their Privateers' scholarship checks.
Thirteen students received a portion of $17,300 the Privateers raised all year in a ceremony at the outdoor café as a gentle sea breeze helped cool the people there.
The scholarship recipients by grade were:
• Seniors: Hilary Hathaway won the Shipreck scholarship and Sajani Patel won the Whitey Horton scholarship.
• Juniors: Ourania Lardas, Jimmy “James” Campbell, Jacob Karguarer, Brandi Ricker, Leanne Browning and Alexander “Xander” Chawi.
• Sophomores: Monica “Molly” McDonough.
• Freshmen: Tiana Smith won the Sandpiper Scholarship sponsored by the Sandpiper Mobile Resort, Justin Puthusseril, Myles Johnson and Samantha Haga.
It was the culmination of another great year for the Privateers, the Island’s crewe of do-good pirates and wenches.