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The 140-pound Hammond organ was towed to Big Pass on top of two stand up paddle boards.
Siesta Key Monday, Mar. 3, 2014 3 years ago

Big Pass dredge opponents say 'let it be'

by: Nolan Peterson News Editor

Finding themselves in times of trouble, a group of Siesta Key residents concerned by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to dredge Big Pass decided they needed to do more than whisper words of wisdom.

So early Sunday morning they strapped a 140-pound Hammond organ (stuffed with foam so it would float) on top of two stand up paddle boards and towed it out to the Big Pass shoal. The organ was then offloaded onto the sandbar, which, despite the extreme low tide due to the new moon, was still under several inches of water. Manhattan-based professional singer and voice coach Maria Lane Sulimirski, whose formal dress dangled in the early morning Gulf of Mexico water, performed the classic Beatles song, "Let it Be," which is quickly becoming the rallying cry for those opposed to what would be the first-ever dredge of Big Pass.

Rich Schineller, a Sarasota-based public relations specialist, directed and produced the effort, titled: "Big Pass Piano."  Sulimirski's performance was captured by a handheld camera and a camera mounted on a miniature drone aircraft — both operated by Jimmy Scott Jr., director of photography. Commercial aerial production specialist Ryan Perrone piloted the drone.

The footage begins with a close-in shot of the 22-year-old musician at the organ, and then slowly pans out to reveal that she is, in fact, sitting ankle-deep in seawater in the middle of Big Pass, Schineller said.

"It was a beautiful day, the water was crystal clear," Schineller said. "The whole thing went perfectly."

The film crew also included Mike Hagan and Greg McDermott, who captained the camera boats, and Diane Sulimirski, who shot still photographs of the early-morning event.

Schineller added that Sulimirski traveled to Sarasota from New York over the weekend specifically to take part in the shoot.

Sunday's "Let it Be" performance was part of a growing campaign to oppose the U.S. Army Corps project, which will face County Commission review this April. Pushback to the Army's plans has been gathering momentum following the domino-effect of Siesta neighborhood and business organizations that have announced their opposition to the project following the Siesta Key Association's opening salvo in January, when it became the first group on the Key to officially state its opposition to the dredge.

Schineller said the raw footage shot Sunday will be edited into a music video, which will be posted to Youtube sometime soon.

The purpose of the video, Schineller said, is to "bring awareness to the public about the U.S. Army Corps project."

Contact Nolan Peterson at [email protected]

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