City sitting out ‘happiest town’ vote

Happiest city
The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau is using this graphic for its get out the vote efforts.

ANNA MARIA – The city of Anna Maria will not be assisting in any “get out the vote” efforts regarding Anna Maria being named one of Coastal Living magazine’s Top 10 “America’s Happiest Seaside Towns.”

Anna Maria Commissioners made this decision with a 3-2 vote at their Thursday, Jan. 25, meeting.

Online voting taking place through Feb. 6 at the magazine’s website will determine which of the 10 recently-nominated cities and towns is ranked number one.

The Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) and the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce are promoting the online contest at their Facebook pages and other digital media platforms.

The contest provides national exposure for the 10 named cities. Some view this as a positive for Anna Maria and the Island and others see it as a negative.

Commission’s positions

During Thursday’s meeting, Mayor Dan Murphy said, “The commission needs to decide what level of participation you would like in this event,” and he presented three simple, inexpensive actions that could be taken:

  • A notice could be posted at the city website, with a link to the Coastal Living website;
  • An email blast could be sent to those listed in the city database;
  • Banner signs could be placed at the entrance to the city and at City Pier Park.

“It’s a tremendous amount of free advertising whether we’re first or tenth. I think we should have it on our website,” Commissioner Doug Copeland said, noting the county and the Chamber would be promoting it.

“I can hear a big groan,” Commissioner Nancy Yetter countered. “I don’t think we need to do anything.”

Commissioner Brian Seymour said he supported a website notice but he didn’t think signs were necessary.

“Most people know about it already,” he said.

“I don’t see why we have to do anything more,” Commissioner Carol Carter said, also citing the efforts of the county and the Chamber.

Commissioner Dale Woodland also voted in favor of doing nothing.

“I am disappointed we’re not participating at some level,” Murphy said the following day.

CVB and Chamber efforts

The CVB is promoting the contest through its Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds, its electronic newsletter and the CVB website.

“There won’t be any paid marketing initiatives,” Director of Communications Kelly Clark said on Thursday.

“Visitors coming to the area is going to create economic impact, which is going to keep the businesses thriving on the Island. We hope everybody takes the time to vote. We’re excited that Anna Maria has been chosen as one of the happiest seaside towns. One of the things we are most proud of is there’s only two Florida destinations on the list,” Clark said.

The AMI Chamber is promoting the contest on its Facebook page and it’s mentioned in the Chamber’s latest tourism newsletter.

“Our take on this is the city of Anna Maria was already named one of the top 10. We feel that it’s very positive to be named one of the happiest seaside cities and we elected to embrace it. This is a benefit to the businesses of Anna Maria,” said Chamber President Terri Kinder.

Public reaction

“It is my happy place but I don’t want any more visitors,” Carol Marer wrote in response to the Chamber’s Facebook post.

“I don’t want to vote. I don’t want any more people coming to the greatest place on earth,” Norman Joe McNary added.

Opinions were mixed at The Sun’s Facebook page.

“Don’t vote for it. It’ll be overrun,” Connie Cae wrote.

“It is no longer the serene and peaceful Island it used to be,” Sharon Heide wrote.

“Beautiful place to live,” Debby Leigh wrote.

“Love it here. Vacation every day,” Julia Lombardo wrote.

As of Friday evening, Anna Maria ranked fourth in the voting. Traverse City, Mich. was the leading vote-getter, followed by Ocean City, N.J. and Vero Beach – the only other Florida nominee.

The Top 10 also includes Cape Charles, Va., Bluffton, S.C., Cannon Beach, Ore., Cambria, Calif., Bellport, N.Y. and Hampton, N.H.

The final rankings will be posted June 12 and all 10 towns will be featured in the July/August issue of Coastal Living magazine on sale June 15.

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