pat copeland | SUN
Darcie Duncan celebrates.
ANNA MARIA – Laughter rolled through the city as people gathered Friday to celebrate the holidays in Anna Maria.
From the parking lots on Gulf Drive to the porches of Pine Avenue, lights twinkled and people visited, shopped and enjoyed snacks and drinks. Many savored the evening as an annual prelude to the holidays, while others new to the event delighted in sampling the city’s treasures.
At the AMI Historical Museum, the parking lot quickly filled with people who came to listen to the Roser Children’s Choir sing holiday favorites and play the hand bells.
“It’s a lovely sense of community around the holiday, especially listening to the children sing,” Linda Morassi said.
During the children’s breaks, Christian Lasater and Raven Smith played violin and cello for the crowd, which enjoyed cookies and mulled cider made by the ladies of the Historical Society.
“It’s wonderful, a great event,” Carleen Weise said.
“It’s a great community affair,” Melinda Lampariello added. “You can see everybody and wish them Merry Christmas.”
Next door, at Vinnie and Cheryl’s Italian Kitchen, visitors demolished a 40-foot sandwich in short order and then sampled Tuscan pork sandwiches.
Across the street at the shops on Pine Avenue, people drifted from store to store and visited with friends and neighbors while enjoying the evening. Mayor SueLynn dispensed holiday beads to those in the crowd.
One bead recipient, Gerald Kovaleski, said, “I’ve been coming here for 20 years from Pennsylvania. I’m having fun, but I’m taking it slow and easy.”
Sue and Ray Skinner, who come from England for the Thanksgiving through New Year holiday period, said, “We come every year. In fact, it’s one of the reasons we come here.”
Up the street at Pink and Navy, visitors were surprised to find Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore behind the counter. She was helping out her daughter Janae Rudacille, who owns the store.
Customers Tami and Jon Mears confessed to being “all sugared up,” and said, “We love this event, and we really like what’s happing here on this street.”
On Gulf Drive, it snowed while Santa reigned in The Sun Plaza parking lot listening to children’s wishes and dreams. Shop owners dispensed clam chowder from the Oyster Bar, wine sponsored by the plaza’s merchants and ice cream from Dips.
Duncan Real Estate won the decorations contest, while Sun holiday T-shirts were won by Brenda Basiley, Genevieve Blais, Barbara Bovoltaly, Deborah Dale, Miraille Deogagne, Valerie Fisher, Belinda Good, Helen Hicks, Donna Late, Sara Lowe, Lorraine Mayer, Yvonne Neubauer, Jack Neumayer, Thomas Pears, Arlene Portera, Dave Quayle, Emma Raulerson, Marena Rosario, Suki Sheperd, Marlene Thomas, Beverly Tiernan, Bud Umphresa, Carol Welington, RayWien and Helen Wilson.