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Longboat Key Wednesday, May 4, 2022 1 month ago

Longboat Key full-timers look forward to slower season

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Although season gets longer every year, full-time residents look forward to less traffic and a lighter calendar.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

Longboat Key loves its part-time residents. They’re old friends, folks who help fill the social calendar and people who love the island just as much as any full-timer. However, they’re also extra cars and dinner reservations on an already-small Key. You love to have them here, but also, you kind of love to watch them leave. As spring heats up into Floridian summer, snowbirds are flying back north. On some levels, full-timers breathe a sigh of relief. 

Terry O’Hara, who lives on the north end of the Key and is the director of golf at the Longboat Key Club, has been counting car carriers over the last few days. As the island empties out, there’s one thing he’s most excited about. 

Terry O'Hara is excited for restaurants to be excited to see him again.

“It’s going to be nice to walk into a restaurant and they look excited to see you, because it’s not so crazy busy for them and it’s not going to be a two and a half hour wait,” O’Hara said. 

Celia Moore has lived on Longboat Key since 2007 and also lives on the north end. When it comes to season, she doesn’t leave the island unless she has to, and she doesn’t go to restaurants because there are few reservations to be had at a reasonable dinner hour. Now that things are slowing down, she’s looking forward to a relaxed pace while running errands.

“You learn to live with it,” Moore said. “If you make an appointment and it’s in Bradenton, you make it for like 11 a.m. and plan to do a million errands.” 

Moore, who is a Chamber of Commerce member and owns Technology Solutions and Security, recently went to a meeting at the chamber building at 5390 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Headed south, it took her five minutes to get there. On her way home, it took nearly an hour.
“I was like, ‘Are you kidding?’” Moore said. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the business … I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s island life and we’re accustomed to it.”

Suzy Brenner and Lahni are looking forward to more relaxed walks.

Suzy Brenner, who lives mid-island and is the executive director of The Paradise Center, had a specific benefit at the top of her mind. 

“I can’t wait to turn left and not have to wait five minutes,” Brenner said. 

She has to budget extra time in the morning to get to work and extra time at lunch to walk over and get a sub from Publix. The grocery store has been packed with vacationers and residents both hoping to get in and out as quickly as possible. 

Also, takeout is about to get easier for Brenner. She’s called La Norma and Solarzano’s for a pizza to go, only to find that they’re too busy with reservations to do takeout — a common restaurant dilemma on Longboat Key 

Traffic thinning out along Gulf of Mexico Drive is a big thing year-round locals look forward to. Lyn Haycock, whose home is right along the main road, said she’s looking forward to being able to pull right out of her driveway without waiting for traffic to create a gap. 

“It doesn’t matter which way I’m going,” Haycock said. “Either way, it takes awhile.”

As social as season is, the summer is social in a different way for Lisa Baskfield, who lives mid-island and owns Nature’s Gem CBD in the Centre Shops. Busy days are good for business, but she’s missed taking strolls to chat with other business owners in the plaza, or the people who hang out at the tables outside of Tyler’s Ice Cream. 

“I look forward to visiting all the restaurants again and honestly just sitting and getting to talk with the locals again and having that connection,” Baskfield said. “All of us get busy and it’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, see you in May,’ and now I get to see my friends again … It’s great and we will miss our part-timers but I get to see this whole new rotation of people now.” 

She also teaches pilates classes, so her schedule has been jam-packed. Even finding time to unwind and read a book or spending time recharging her own batteries can be tough during season. “Island time” in the winter reaches a frenetic pace, but in the summer the slowness is much appreciated. 

“I can stop and talk with Michael (Garey at the Lazy Lobster) or the hairdressers, or walk down and see what’s going on and what’s new and exciting in everyone’s worlds,” Baskfield said. 

Andrew Vac, a longtime resident and Realtor on Longboat Key, isn’t so sure season is winding down just yet. He sees people moving to Florida every day and a lot of the people he knows who would normally be flying north around this time of year haven’t yet. But of course, when it starts to slow down, his main thing he’s looking forward to is lighter traffic — 15 or 20-minute drives rather than 30 or 45-minute ones. 

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