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Santa Claus arrives at Siesta Center to visit with children and families during a past Light Up the Village event on the Key. File photo.
Siesta Key Thursday, Sep. 29, 2011 6 years ago

Island Beat: Volunteers sought for the Key's second Crystal Classic

by: Rachel Brown Hackney Managing Editor

Mote is seeking hundreds of volunteers interested in helping out with the second Siesta Key Crystal Classic Master Sandsculpting Competition, which will be held Nov. 11-14.

Beyond the good feeling of assisting with a huge community event that will benefit Mote’s sea turtle program, volunteers will get the perk of free admission and a T-shirt. Regular admission is $5 per day or $10 for three days.

For the inaugural Crystal Classic, in 2010, more than 40,000 people descended upon the Key to get a close-up look at international sandsculptors carving massive designs. Organizers are expecting at least that many people again this year.

Volunteers are needed to help greet and direct guests, sell beverages and admission wristbands and provide guests with information, among other tasks. Shifts will range from two to four hours, according to a Mote press release.

To be a volunteer, you must be at least 15 years old, be prepared to stand for several hours outdoors and not mind walking on sandy, uneven surfaces. (Siesta’s may be the No. 1 beach in the U.S., but even the best beaches have some not-so-smooth sections.)

To see a list of volunteer shifts and to sign up, visit

Teaching fire safety
When I spoke last week with Don Damron, the chief inspector with the Sarasota County Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Division, he reminded me that his office provides fire safety classes, which include training with fire extinguishers.

I told him I recalled someone sending the Pelican a photo several years ago from one of those classes on the Key. Fire officials set a cooking pan on fire and let the participants take turns at it with a fire extinguisher.

“Sometimes it gets quite comical,” he said. “We have a good time.”

Damron said he’s probably conducted between 100 and 150 of those types of classes and always is happy to do more.

“Our kids are better educated on fire safety than the adults,” he said, thanks to fire officials’ visits to schools. “We hope that (the children are) educating their parents.”

Anyone interested in scheduling a fire safety session may call Damron’s office at 861-2290.

Sad faces at St. Boniface
Richard Aubry, director of the St. Boniface Preschool, reported recently that fitness instructor Sherry Burchett, who used to hold classes for the youngsters on Mondays, has moved away.

“She was outstanding, just outstanding,” he said. Both the children and their parents loved her, he added.
Burchett’s husband landed a good job in Arkansas, Aubry said, so the couple felt they needed to make the move.

Asked how Burchett happened to end up conducting the fitness classes, Aubry said, “She had applied for my position.”

When he ended up getting the job, Aubry suggested a fitness program would be a good feature for the children. The committee members who had conducted the interviews knew she had a fitness background, so they advised Aubry to talk with her.

Aubry is optimistic about finding a replacement for Burchett. He planned to start interviewing candidates soon.

Christmas in September?
For the Siesta Key Village Association, it’s not too early to start thinking about the holiday season, specifically the Key’s big kick-off event the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

During the Sept. 6 SKVA meeting, President Russell Matthes reminded everyone that Light Up the Village will be Nov. 26. According to the organization’s newsletter, “Boulevard Buzz,” it is the SKVA’s biggest annual event. It features live entertainment at various venues in the Village and, most important for the youngsters, the opportunity to visit with Ol’ St. Nick himself.

Last year, the organization’s board decided to add a parade to the schedule. Let’s just say participation was not quite as good as it could have been. Because no law enforcement assistance could be secured to keep the public along the sidelines, there also a problem with other vehicles ending up on the parade route with the participants.

Matthes is hoping for a much better parade turnout this year and is encouraging SKVA members to round up a lot of participants. He’s also been handing out assignments and holding meetings.

Anyone interested in being part of the parade or helping out with the many activities that create the family friendly event should contact the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce at 349-3800.

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