May 24, 2011

Centennial Celebration on Anna Maria Island

Festivals, fireworks, and food.  On May 13th and 14th, 2011 Anna Maria celebrated the 100th anniversary of the City Pier in style! 
It was a two day celebration kicked off by a parade up Gulf Drive on Friday evening featuring island dignitaries in antique cars, floats, Manatee High School drum line, Sailor Circus unicycle performers, horses and, of course, the Privateers landship, the Skullywag, blasting its cannons!
Residents and visitors lined the parade route cheering while float participants threw candy and beads into the crowd.  The Historical Society "Old City Jail" float featured "convicts" throwing fig newtons! (Did you know that Fig Newtons were invented by island pioneer, John Roser?)

The parade culminated at the City Pier for the unveiling of the new historic marker at the entrance to the pier, and the unfurling of a flag that was flown over the Capitol, followed by a party in the pier parking lot.  Pier regulars, Frank Almeda and our own Mark Alonso, cut the cake decorated with pier memorabilia and passed out pieces to the happy crowd.

The next day, Saturday May 14th, the town celebrated by closing Pine Avenue for the first annual "Food and Wine on Pine Festival" showcasing fresh, local and seasonal Florida foods. "Tastes of Anna Maria Island" was accompanied by boutique wines and beers, juried art exhibits, live art demonstrations, chalk art, and children's art activities throughout the day. 

The Manatee Players "USO Girls" perform for a crowd on Pine Avenue Photo:Lisa Neff
Costumed actors strolled the street dressed as the island's first citizens such as Lena Phellps (island's first school teacher) and John Roser (built Roser Cottage and Roser Church). 

The Anna Maria Island Historical Society offered demonstrations of soap making, butter churning, beekeepers, blacksmiths, weaving felting, quilting (and more), and of course their trademark "Settler's Bread."

The postmaster from our local office created a special stamp cancellation for the week.  

Anna Maria post office applies AMI City Pier Centennial Postmark. photo: J Elka
Crowds were entertained by turn-of-the-century style music including bluegrass and classical music in duets, quartets and quintets. There was also  live art demonstrations where onlookers watched the artists create their magic. Children stopped by Chad Ruis’ “Chalk Art” display where he transformed the Humpback Bridge into a beautiful work of Chalk Art. 

The Centennial Celebration has been two years in the planning .  "The spirit of the event reflected what is special about Anna Maria," said Ed Chiles, who initiated the festival. 

A sudden downpour put an early end to the festivities, but hundreds of residents returned later that evening to enjoy the fireworks display over Tampa Bay. 

It was a perfect "old time historic" Florida celebration.
photo: Jack Elka

For information on the history of the 
Anna Maria City Pier, click here:  City Pier

Don't forget to visit our Vacation Rental site: 
Coastal Cottages AMI

History of Anna Maria City Pier

The Anna Maria City Pier Centennial took place recently with a two day celebration.  Many visitors have asked about the history of this quaint "old time" Florida pier.

The following story appeared in the Bradenton Herald on May 15, 2011:

Can the Anna Maria City Pier Centennial Ever Really Live Up to the Original Party?
Published Sunday, May 15, 2011 2:00 am
by Merab-Michal Favorite

 The Anna Maria City Pier was built in 1911 as a way to promote tourism and receive supplies.

ANNA MARIA  -- George "Will" Wilhelm Bean had big plans for his North Point property on Anna Maria Island that had been purchased by his father in 1893. Aside from the planned streets and sidewalks for the “finest resort on the west coast of Florida” the entrepreneur first had to find a way for travelers to approach the detached island paradise. Bean built a grand pier to receive steamboat traffic, sent his 10-year-old daughter out in a brightly colored rowboat to welcome incoming ships and convinced his sister to dress like a gypsy and tell visitors’ fortunes – all this in the name of tourism.
Will Bean’s father, George Emerson Bean, was the first homesteader on the island. He and his family settled the tract of land from North Point to Magnolia Avenue, which is where the Island Community Center is today. Three years after they moved in, father and son formed Anna Maria Beach Development Company. They laid out streets and sidewalks, built houses and constructed a water system. One of their partners in the venture was none other than Charles M. Roser, the inventor of the fig Newton cookie which he sold to Nabisco for one million dollars.
The developers needed a way to get people to their island paradise, so they built the 776-foot pier in 1911 to receive steamer traffic. When tourists heard of the of the pier opening, they flocked by the hundreds. Will Bean dressed his daughter in a black and white bathing costume and painted her rowboat red. Visitors beamed with delight when they were greeted by the small child upon arrival.  While his sister told fortunes, Will Bean stocked a small gift shop with island mementos such as shells and starfish. He didn’t stop there; as part of the island tour, Will Bean put a flock of peacocks in his yard along with a live alligator that resided in a small man-made pond in front of his home.
Since the pier's opening, it has been a popular fishing spot.
Just after the pier was finished, the Anna Maria Beach Company printed a brochure claiming that Anna Maria was “Florida’s famous year-round resort.” Up until this point, most northerners vacationed in Northern Florida, never venturing below Jacksonville. The brochure also claimed that the four artesian wells at Anna Maria contained medicinal ingredients that eased suffering for people with stomach, bladder or kidney troubles. It also called the water a “mild laxative” and boasted that since each of the 60 cottages had plumbing, “health-giving water was accessible to all.”

The venture was a huge success. Picnic goers all over Manatee County could take day trips to Anna Maria via Steamer. During the summer, one ship ran a 50-cent, round-trip special on Thursdays. It would drop parties of young people off in the morning and on the return trip from Tampa, they would be picked up. Overnight camping trips to the island were also very popular. The Beans built a bathing house in the vicinity of what is now the Sandbar Restaurant. For those who didn’t feel like camping or picnicking, a hotel that served lunch to day trippers was constructed shortly after.
The pier was the hub of activity. Not only could excursion boats dock, but now the island had easy access to suppliers. In the early 1920s two buildings sat at the end of the pier. On the left, the Lotus collage was built for the family of a Tampa banker named John Price. It had four bedrooms and four baths. An icehouse for island residents was built on the right. It became a fish cannery which failed shortly after. It was rebuilt as a rental cottage called Belle Haven and owned by a man named Charles Roser.

Today the pier is still a popular place for families to go to catch dinner.
It wasn’t weather but neglect that brought the buildings down. Even though they survived the hurricane of 1921, both eventually fell into the bay due to rotten pilings. After the City of Anna Maria acquired the pier in 1928, maintenance was always a hardship. While moneys provided by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal helped make necessary repairs in the 1930s, many of the buildings had already rotted away.

In the 1970s, a storm carried off two thirds of the dock and the city paid $30,000 to replace it. The buildings at the end became a restaurant and baitshop.
Although it has retained its classic look, proponents have been unsuccessful in getting the pier registered as a national historical landmark. In 1988 Tropical Storm Keith damaged the pier again and again it was repaired by the city.

One thing has remained consistent with the City Pier and that’s the fishing. Since the beginning it seems like not a line goes in the azure water without something biting it. The Pier may be too jury-rigged to make the National Registry of Historical Places, but it’s a Manatee County historical landmark all the same. We may not use it for what it was originally intended, but it is still the most popular fishing place on the island. The city may curse every time they have to replace a plank or patch a roof, but if people still enjoy walking down the dock and to view famous Florida wildlife and stunning sunsets, then in my opinion it’s worth it. We should enjoy more things for one hundred years instead of allowing them to be washed into the depths of history.

Anna Maria Island 1940-1970: Tales of Three Cities from Bean Point to Bridge Street by Carolyne Norwood, copyright 2010 by Anna Maria Historical Society
The Early Days 1893-1940, copyright 2003 by the Anna Maria Histoical Society. All photos: Anna Maria Historical Society.

May 18, 2011

Jean Carlson - Artist Bio

Many of our readers have asked about my mom's background as an artist.  So, I thought you might be interested in her artistic career.
 A Brief Bio of the Artist:  Jean Carlson

Northern Michigan and, now, Anna Maria Island provide the setting for Jean Carlson's artistic expression.  Her watercolors depict the world around her, whether it's a bouquet of flowers, a scene at the beach, or a farmhouse in the country.

Her formal training includes fashion, which she studied at the Ray-Vogue School of Art in Chicago.  From there, she attended Stephens College in Columbia, Missouri, where she majored in art and was elected to the National Honorary Fraternity of Art, Tau Sigma Tau.

She has won numerous awards in various exhibits around the country, including New York City and Nebraska, where she painted a mural for the city of Grand Island.  Her watercolor florals decorate all the rooms at Hermann's European Hotel in Cadillac, Michigan.  She is founding member of the Cadillac Area Artist's Association.
currently, she resides in northern Michigan in the summertime and in Florida in the winter.

For further information you can write:
Jean Carlson
PO Box 1178
Anna Maria, Florida

Or leave a message at the end of this post!

May 15, 2011

Coastal Artist - Jean Carlson

Anna Maria Island is brimming with artists.  As you walk into your vacation cottage, you'll probably pick up on the "beachy" feel of the decor.  Many vacation home owners take great pride in decorating their cottages with creations from local artists.
The island hosts several art fairs each year along with galleries in Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and in Anna Maria City.  The island is the perfect artist's retreat with an endless array of subjects to paint, sculpt and craft.
A Day at Bean Point, by Jean Carlson
Local artist groups such as the Anna Maria Island Artist Guild and the Anna Maria Island Art League boast large memberships and plenty of activities such as artist's demonstrations, lectures and community art projects.
The images featured in this post were created by my own mother, Jean Carlson.  She loves the colors of Anna Maria and has painted hundreds of compositions  depicting scenes around the island. She uses mostly watercolors to get that quick immediacy of  sunlight and forms.
Beach Umbrellas, by Jean Carlson
Several of our Coastal Cottages vacation homes are adorned with Jean Carlson art.  We've had so many compliments that we now carry greeting cards in our office featuring her work.
 I'm so proud of my mom and hope you enjoy her work as much as I do!  
For more information on Jean Carlson's art click here: Artist's Bio.
Click here to see our Gallery!
Mom and I on Mother's Day, May 8, 2011

April 13, 2011

AMI on the Go!

Getting around Anna Maria Island is easy.  You can hop on the Trolley and ride the full length of the island.  Or, you might choose to walk.  Every morning, you'll see power walkers all along Gulf Drive.  And,of course, beach walkers are a mainstay. 

You can add a little fun to your day by adding some wheels.  How about a two-wheel segway ride? Lots of fun, and surprisingly simple to master.

Here I am on a little "Go Pet"

Doug and Michelle Shaw do their grocery shopping on a bicycle built for two:
Of course, the more wheels, the more fun! You'll see electric powered golf carts and people-powered four wheeled vehicles.

Fritz loves to ride, too!
Check out Fritz's Friends blog for more fun pics.

There's something for everyone. On Anna Maria Island, transportation isn't just about getting from one place to another.  We ride for the fun of it.  Come join us. Life is good!

For more information on bikes and all kinds of fun vehicles, check with your Coastal Cottages vacation specialist.

April 3, 2011

Sand Dollars Along Anna Maria Island Coast

One of my favorite things to do in the morning is to walk along the beautiful stretches of beach on Anna Maria Island.  I look for sand dollars washing up in the surf. Almost everyday I find one or two whole sand dollars and consider it my lucky day!

 They range in size from an average three inches in diameter to tiny baby sand dollars.  Sometimes I'll find parts of very large ones with diameters of five to six inches.  

 Sand dollars are found in sandy, shallow water, although some are found in deep ocean floors throughout all the world's oceans. Mostly, they live in groups near land.

 You might have heard that picking up a sand dollar and keeping it is wrong because it is a "live" animal.  Most beaches and state parks have strict rules against taking any live sea life from their home, so please honor those laws.


Sand dollars are marine animals so please be sure not to disturb live ones.  A live sand dollar is brown, dark tan or even a purple with many tiny moving brown spines covering its surface.  These little "arms" enable the sand dollar to move along the ocean floor as well as obtain food and push it into its mouth.  It has a "velvety" feel.  

Most sand dollars have five sets of pores on the surface, which is used to move seawater into the body where it is pumped to aid in movement and internal functions. 

Pick up only the white ones, and you'll be fine.  The sand dollar skeletal shell is smooth, hard and white, so by the time it washes up on the beach, its probably no longer living.  Just the shell remains, so it’s fine to collect these.  If you come across a brown one with moving fuzzy spines, just toss it back to the sea. 
 Curious about how these little creatures reproduce?  The female discharges already ripe eggs and the male then fertilizes them externally.  Females can produce over 350,000 eggs per year.  The baby sand dollars develop into several stages until the hard skeleton starts to form, then they drop to the bottom and live in groups for the rest of their lives.
Not many sea creatures bother the sand dollar since they don't have much in the way of edible parts and the skeleton is pretty hard. If the water is fairly calm, you might be able to see a sand dollar stand on its edge wedging itself in the mud.  In areas of strong currents and tides, sand dollars burrow into the soft sandy bottom. Sometimes they actually swallow sand grains to add weight so they're not washed away!

If you find sand dollars along the beach (low tide after a storm is the best time), then you might want to preserve them, since they are brittle.

Try these simple steps:
-soak it in fresh water
- rinse, then soak in 2/3 fresh water and 1/3 bleach for 15 minutes.
-rinse and let dry
-mix water and white glue in equal portions
-brush on and let dry.
Now, you're ready to display your find!
If your sand dollar breaks, no worries.  Use this as an opportunity to check out the anatomy of this unique sea creature.  You might hear something rattling inside.  Shake it out into your palm and, as legend tells it, there will be five little "doves" waiting to spread good will and peace.

To see live sand dollars in action, check out the videos below: 
videos: Youtube

Just one more bit of info.  
There are several different types of sand dollars:
Flat Round:

Sea Biscuits:
 Sea Gopher:
photos courtesy
I usually find the flat rounds, but have found arrowheads, too.
Let me know what you find!

March 28, 2011

Anna Maria Fish Tales

I received this email just a couple of days ago from Dave and Kris who rented our Pineapple Cottage. 
Pineapple Cottage - Pine Avenue, Anna Maria, Florida

Thought you'd like to hear their impressions of our beautiful island:

March 23rd, 2011 -  week stay at Pineapple Cottage
4th year visiting Sue and her island.  Great location and very easy walk to the beaches and shops!  Had a great day in the water, fishing with Jason and his kayaks.  Trout, snook and  redfish all came on top water plugs, very cheap and one of the best guides in the area, not mention a world wide award winning guide!

Check out Captain Jason Stock:

JM Snooky Charters

Dave and Kris, from Wisconsin.

Interested in an exciting fishing trip?  Let one of our vacation specialists at Coastal Cottages know what you'd like.  We're here to make your vacation memorable and easy!