Since the closing in August of the Irish Rover pub in Gulf Gate, Village bars are expecting more revelers on St. Patrick’s Day, Catherine Luckner, president of the Siesta Key Association, told her members this month.
Reporting on behalf of Russell Matthes, president of the Siesta Key Village Association, Luckner said the bars were hiring extra security, “and they are gong to be serving things in plastic only, no bottles.”
Kevin Cooper, executive director of the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, added that no official event was planned in the Village. However, he said, “I think there’s an expectation that, much like when the pineapple drop didn’t happen downtown (on New Year’s Eve), those crowds that would normally centralize (in Gulf Gate) will disperse to other parts of the county” for St. Patrick’s Day.
Village restaurants and bars reported far more customers than usual on New Year’s Eve, attributing the crowd to the fact that downtown Sarasota did not host its traditional festivities that night.
“It’s not us driving it,” Cooper said of Village business people, regarding St. Patrick’s Day plans. “I think the event is only anticipating a higher level of traffic than we would normally see on that day.”
Moreover, he said, the bars’ decision to serve alcoholic beverages in plastic was an attempt to keep customers from leaving glass on lawns, for example, or sidewalks.
“So there isn’t a scheduled pub crawl?” SKA board member Michael Shay asked, referring to the collaboration of the bars for special holiday events, such as the Turkey Trot before Thanksgiving.
Cooper and Siesta Key Chamber President Mark Smith, who also was attending the SKA meeting, said that, to their knowledge, no pub crawl was planned in the Village for St. Patrick’s Day.
Spring break-ers crowd the Key
“Spring break is upon us,” Sgt. Scott Osborne, leader of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Community Policing Station in Siesta Village, told members of the Siesta Key Association March 1.
During the Siesta Key Village Association meeting March 6, Osborne emphasized that point, saying, “The dynamics of the beach have changed again.”
Instead of a preponderance of families, as he and his fellow officers had been seeing for weeks, Osborne said, “It’s just all young people” at the beach.
Still, he added, “So far, so good,” adding that few problems had been reported. “But we’re concentrating on the beach,” he said.
The week of the SKA meeting, Osborne said, numerous students from the University of Michigan and Michigan State were visiting the area. This week is expected to be the busiest on the Key, he said, with the Sarasota County and Manatee County public schools closed for spring break.
Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce President Mark Smith joked to his fellow attendees at the March 6 SKVA meeting, “Get your groceries this week, because next week, you’ll be homebound.”
Osborne added that sheriff’s deputies over recent years had written an average of 100 tickets for underage drinking during the college spring break tourist season on the Key. He told the SKA members that the department would have an extra 30 to 40 officers working on the island during the spring-break period, to help with patrols.
Among the additional personnel will be the officers of the mounted patrol, he said, and the Sheriff’s Office’s K-9 Unit.
Osborne also pointed out that the Sheriff’s Office has recorded an increase in burglaries of vehicles during spring break each year. People who come to the beach leave purses, cell phones and other items in their vehicles, “and now it’s iPads,” he said, because they do not want to have to take the items onto the beach.
“(Thieves) seem to be targeting (iPads),” Osborne added.
People will break windows or tamper with locks, he said, to gain access to vehicles.
Deputies advise visitors and residents alike to lock items out of sight, if they do not want to haul them to the beach.