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

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