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Longboat Key Thursday, Aug. 12, 2021 5 months ago

Longboat Key couple Mike and Sue Ann Ciccone celebrate the island life

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The couple recently moved to Longboat Key full time and spend their nights seeking happy memories.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

One man’s busted sailboat is another man’s wine bottle holder. 

Mike Ciccone, a recent full-time Longboater, is living the life on the Key both on the Gulf and right at home. He takes his boat out every weekend and outfits his condo in touches of the island. As someone in construction, he likes to take on projects and built the live edge bar in his home that he covered in epoxy to look like the ocean. His wine bottle holder has an interesting backstory, though. The wood came from the wreckage of the ill-fated sailboat that crashed on Longboat Key and was eventually washed away by Hurricane Eta in November 2020. 

“When that storm came and took it back out, the debris was busted up right behind the condo, so I was trying to help clean the beach up and I made a couple nice little decorative things for us,” Ciccone said. 

Mike Ciccone built a wine bottle holder from the remains of the sailboat.

He made a few versions for himself and his family with the wood he picked up. When he posted it to the I Love Longboat Key FL Facebook group, where a lot of his positive-island-life-vibes posts garner likes and slightly envious comments, someone reached out to ask if he would make another one to buy from Ciccone. He offered to make the curious buyer a replica because he was out of sailboat wood, but the other man wanted it to have meaning. Ciccone isn’t looking to sell anything he makes — he just wants it to have meaning, too.

His wife, Sue Ann, said he makes things for the house with whatever he’s got; recently she got a pen holder from a chunk of wood he had. The couple lives in Longboat Harbour, and after Ciccone noticed pieces of artwork between some of the buildings, he got the idea to eventually do a piece in honor of his parents who lived here before him. 

“I’m picking up a lot of driftwood and I’m trying to do some stuff with it,” Ciccone said. “I have some different ideas with it. I’m just cleaning the beach up.” 

It’s rare that a day goes by where Ciccone doesn’t stick his feet in the Longboat Key sand now that he lives on the island full-time. Along with the driftwood, he’s collecting all the beach-based hobbies he can. Ciccone recently got a metal detector and has already found an emerald-and-diamond ring, some old coins and an old bullet in the sand near the condo. 

“I’m just keeping all the stuff that I'm finding,” Ciccone said. “I only just started a couple weeks ago, but it's another fun hobby.”

Even before he moved to Longboat Key full-time, Ciccone and his wife Sue Ann came out to the island pretty much every weekend. The pair run an Instagram account where they keep track of and review the area’s happy hours (@Happy_Hour.Hunters1). It started as a Friday date night thing — Sue Anne’s coworkers always knew the couple was going out because she would come to work dressed up. She had a list of happy hours on her phone and they would pick one that they could make it to in time. 

“Now that’s all out of date, so we’re starting over and keeping track on Instagram,” Sue Ann said. “We started going to a lot of places during the first bad red tide, just wanting to keep them in business.” 

Sue Ann has been coming to Longboat Key with the Ciccone family since the couple got married 28 years ago. Ciccone’s mom owned the Longboat Harbour condo before them, but they only ever went to the same few places to eat. Sue Ann and Mike want to make sure they spread the local love, so they’ve made happy hours their niche. 

Ciccone and his wife still work out in Lakewood Ranch, but they just wanted to get the island life going as soon as possible. Their retirements are coming up, but they’re just getting retirement practice in. They take their time on the way home and keep a change of non-work clothes in the car so they can hit a happy hour before heading home to their Longboat Key sunsets, which Ciccone said are one of his favorite parts of island life. 

“We used to come up here every weekend,” Sue Ann said. “Now he’s living his best life.” 

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