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Siesta Key Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 6 years ago

ISLAND BEAT: Oh, what a busy beach it was for the holidays

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

With temperatures hovering the 80s for much of the holiday period, it was no surprise that the No. 1 beach in the country was a popular spot.

Sarasota County lifeguard Robert Martini told me Monday that county staff estimated between 12,000 and 15,000 people on Siesta Public Beach each of the three days leading up to Jan. 1.

“We were extremely busy,” he said. Christmas Day was even busier, he added.

“They filled up our parking lot,” he said, along with the paid lots at St. Boniface Episcopal Church and St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church on Midnight Pass Road. The county parking lots from Beach Accesses 3 to 13 also were full, he said.

Among the visitors, Martini said, were numerous Amish tourists in town from Ohio and Michigan. Their attire may be a bit different from what one would expect to see on a beachgoer, but the Amish were having just as much fun as everyone else, according to Martini’s observations.

Families made up the largest portion of the people enjoying the sun and water, Martini said.

“There were no problems for us or the Sheriff’s Office,” he added, except for some first-aid cases.

One woman, from the Midwest, apparently became overheated one day, Martini said.

“It was so warm for her (on Siesta) versus where she’s from,” he added.

Another person reported being stung by a stingray, Martini said, though he didn’t have the details on that case.

The only other noteworthy point from the holidays, he added, was “everyone’s looking for that No. 1 beach sign.” He fielded a lot of questions about where to find it, he said, but the only signs to which he could direct people were those attached to the Sarasota County Area Transit signs just before Labor Day weekend.

I saw some email exchanges among county commissioners and Rob Lewis, executive director of the county’s Planning and Development Services Department, just before Christmas that indicated further tweaks were necessary before the new 4-foot-by-8-foot sign could go up near the Siesta Beach pavilion. The County Commission Dec. 14 unanimously approved the concepts Lewis presented that day for the two-sided sign, but a couple of commissioners suggested slight changes to one side of the sign.

I was unable to reach Lewis before our Observer Group holiday break, so I hope to have more details by next week on when exactly the sign will appear at the beach.

More winners
Helen Clifford, the Siesta Key Condominium Council Board of Directors member who oversaw the organization’s annual Condo Lighting Contest, has provided the names of complexes that won Honorable Mention recognition following the Dec. 16 judging.

Those yellow-ribbon winners were Horizon West, Island Reef, Castle Del Mar, Palm Bay Club and Whispering Sands.

Clifford wanted to make sure all judges were in agreement about the list before she released it, so it was not available for my Dec. 29 column. I am sure the numerous visitors to the Key appreciated the efforts that the condos put into their seasonal “attire.”

Savings for good causes
St. Boniface Episcopal Church is holding a half-price sale on clothing at its thrift shop through Jan. 14. The shop is located at 6622 Superior Ave., in Gulf Gate.

It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

Lisa Wolf, the church’s administrative assistant, also welcomes people who are cleaning out their closets and cupboards for the new year to drop off gently used house wares, books (especially paperbacks) and clothing.

“Your savings benefit community outreach,” she said. “Last year alone, the thrift shop awarded $6,000 to hard-working local nonprofit groups.”

For more information about the thrift shop, call 921-4069.

Math woes
Once again, a reader caught a mistake I attribute to haste and my general challenges in the subject of math.

Jack Conway emailed a note last week to say that if the Key’s late, beloved Capt. Ralph Styles died at age 98 in 2008, he would have been older than 16 when he was serving at Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941. Mr. Conway was correct.

I did a little more research and learned that Styles was born Feb. 27, 1910; he graduated in the upper half of his U.S. Naval Academy class in 1933. That made him 31 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.

Conway and his wife, Karen, have their own fond memories of Styles. Conway said he recalled one time when he took a Vietnam veteran — a fighter pilot — to watch the lowering of the American flag in Styles’ front yard on Beach Road and saw the pilot’s eyes tear up.

Found it
Another holiday email brought good news from Sheila Lewis, co-owner of Siesta Sports Rentals.

After someone called to say the shop’s missing beach wheelchair was at Gilligan’s on Ocean Boulevard, Sheila’s husband, Mike, went over there to check it out. Yes, the wheelchair was there, and it evidently had been there for several weeks, following its mid-November disappearance from Lido Key.

It just took a while for someone to spot the Siesta Sports Rentals stickers on it, Sheila wrote.

“It’s back where it belongs now,” she added.

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