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Town of Longboat Key turns 57, but who's counting?

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  • | 5:00 a.m. November 14, 2012
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Nov. 14, 1955.

New York Gov. W. Averell Harriman graced the cover of Time magazine.

The Four Acres’ “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing” was the top song on the radio and on jukeboxes.
“Marjorie Morningstar,” by Herman Wouk, was at the top of the New York Times’ fiction best-seller list.
In terms of national and world history, the day was pretty dull.

But on that day, a tiny barrier island split between Sarasota and Manatee counties made history. Around 7:55 p.m. on a tiny island in Florida, a group of more than 200 gathered in a fire station.

They were gathered to vote on whether to incorporate as a town.

Retired inventor Guy Paschal had been pushing for incorporation for the previous three years to give voice to the Key in government matters. The island paid taxes to both Sarasota and Manatee counties, but with just 250 registered voters, it had little sway with county governments.

J.B. Holt and Charles Flanagan led the opposition, arguing that their property taxes would go up with incorporation.

More government, more cost, they figured.

After three hours and 10 minutes of debate, the 199 registered voters in the room cast ballots.
The vote was 186 in favor of incorporation, and 13 opposed.

And so, the town of Longboat Key was born.

Voters then elected Will LePage as the town’s first mayor and selected an eight-man board of aldermen, which, two days later voted to designate the fire station as the first town hall and to hold meetings on the first Monday of every month, thus, beginning the grand tradition of Longboat Key Town Commission meetings on the first Monday of every month that continues today.

Later that night, Paschal and Flanagan got into a fight at Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub. Accounts differed as to who started the brawl, but Paschal had a black eye at the next town meeting.

Birthday plans?
The town turns 57 this week.

As far as birthdays go, it’s not exactly a milestone.

When the town turned 25, Mayor Ken McCall and Kiwanis President George Paules paid tribute to 11 “outstanding citizens” of Longboat Key, each of whom had their names inscribed on the Tablet of Honor in Bicentennial Park.

For the half-century mark in 2005, the town celebrated with fireworks at Bayfront Park on its actual birthday, which fell on a Monday, and a “Miss Longboat Key: 50 and Fabulous” pageant. Then, it followed it up with an all-day extravaganza the next Saturday that included two performances of the late Claudia Fuller’s play, “Can’t We All Just Get Along?”; a high-wire performance by the Fabulous Wallendas; and an anniversary tournament at the Longboat Key Public Tennis Center.

The town kept it low-key for its 55-year proclamation, issuing a proclamation at a Harry’s Continental Kitchens wine tasting.

And, although it’s a little early to start discussing 60th anniversary celebrations, save the date: Nov. 14, 2015.


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