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Longboat Key: 2023 in photos

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Pause and reflect. 

Most of us don’t do enough of that in our daily lives. We can’t find the time. So for many of us, the holidays become simply one more race to run, something else to survive or get through — we’ve got to move onto the next thing. Because if we don’t, we fall behind. After all, there’s always another deadline just around the corner. …

But before digital photos devoured terabytes of hard drive space, it used to be a ritual for many — curating the photos we’d taken over the previous months or year(s) and collecting the best of them in albums. 

That time-honored ritual was a chance to look back at where we’d been, to show gratitude for what we’d gained, to mourn those we may have lost and to remember how happy we were once or to think of how happy we might be once again.

Sure, iPhones and digital cameras have improved the quality of photos most of us take, but there’s something special about being able to turn the pages, to hold tangible reminders of where we’ve been, rather than swiping away through hundreds or thousands of photos.

So think of this as a photo album, a yearbook of sorts, for a year where it felt like life got back on track in many respects. Idalia brushed past Longboat, leaving only a few scratches behind. COVID is mostly in the rearview mirror, fading even further away, one hopes.

So we pored over thousands of photos to find our selections for 2023. The theme (if there is one) for our favorites should feel familiar: Just Longboaters doing Longboat things. 

Here’s to another year in paradise.


Special guest

Photo by Lesley Dwyer

April Glasco, founder of Second Chance Last Opportunity, sings "God Has Smiled on Me," at Temple Beth Israel in a surprise performance. SCLO teaches life-management and parenting skills and distributes meals and clothing. Temple Beth Israel members began supporting the Sarasota-based nonprofit in 2020.

For the birds

Courtesy image

Heather and Ray Sellers work together on a seawall to rescue a dehydrated juvenile turkey vulture. As Save Our Seabirds volunteers, the Longboat couple has rescued more than 200 birds.

It’s NYE, old sport

Ami Rodriguez with Speakeasy Host Sam Sperduti
Courtesy image

Ami Rodriguez and Speakeasy Host Sam Sperduti usher in 2023 at the Bird Key Yacht Club’s Gatsby-style New Year’s Eve party. The party was replete with flappers and fedoras as members danced the night away to some Jelly Roll Jazz.


Time keepers

Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Jerry Lutgen holds a time capsule. In honor of Seaplace Condominiums’ 50th anniversary, residents prepared a time capsule, filling it with items and photos from the condo’s history and, of course, a copy of the Longboat Observer.

Challenge accepted

Photo by Lesley Dwyer

Observer Challenge Division 1 champions Caitlin McCormick and Angie Eason hoist their trophy after winning the tourney held at Longboat Key’s Public Tennis Center. Competition was fierce with around 70 athletes taking part as the tournament continued its post-COVID resurgence.

Let’s get vertical

Photo by Lauren Tronstad

Project executive at the St. Regis construction site. A week later the St. Regis celebrated its topping off. The resort is scheduled to be completed in March of 2024 and open in the summer of 2024. 


Hangable rideables

Photo by Lesley Dwyer

At the Longboat Key Arts Festival, the Observer met Shannon and James Rajner, who turn old surfboards into art, keeping the boards’ styrofoam cores out of landfills. The couple is bicoastal, spending three months of the year in Fort Myers and the rest of their time in Oceanside, California. “Styrofoam is really bad for the environment,” Shannon said. “So we use old, thrashed, beat-up surfboards. James hand carves them, and we paint them to look like this, so we’re upcycling.”

Royal rummage

Photo by Lesley Dwyer

St. Mary, Star of the Sea, Catholic Church’s Royal Rummage Sale drew record crowds to its 2023 iteration. The early birds were out in force hunting for deals; 809 people paid for the privilege of browsing the sale a day early. “Early bird was controversial though because they didn’t do it in the beginning. They added it a few years later,” volunteer Nancy Gornto said. “Some people felt like nobody would want to pay $5, and now we’ve got the line wrapped around the church.”

Beach bodies

Photo by Lauren Tronstad

Red tide conditions scattered dead fish across Longboat Key beaches in the spring, but it could’ve been worse. “It hasn’t been as bad as it has been in years past,” Town Manager Howard Tipton said in a video presentation. “But if you’re new to the town, it can be a little bit of an adjustment.”



Photo by Lesley Dwyer

The Easter Bunny made an appearance on Longboat Key, visiting Sand Cay Beach Resort, entertaining some 60 children at the annual Easter party.

On even keel

Photo by Sidra Wali

Skipper Joe McClash and his crew on the Wind Caller during the Bird Key Yacht Club’s Sarasota Bay Cup Regatta. More than 60 boats set sail on a picture-perfect day for racing.

Earth Day display

Photo by Sidra Wali

Ross Johnston, manager of visitor engagement at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, leads a walking tour by the bay educating visitors about various plants and trees. The third annual Nature Talks and Walks for Earth Day event at Longboat Island Chapel brought together several local environmental organizations to educate the public.

Climate champ

Photo by Ian Swaby

Elizabeth Moore, director of the Climate Adaptation Center, presents an award to Ed Chiles, founding board member of All Clams on Deck. The inaugural 2023 Climate Champions Award Ceremony was held with the idea of inspiring more people by recognizing environmental stewards.


Training day

Photo by Lauren Tronstad

Lieutenant Brandon Desch assesses the area for obstacles and people during Longboat Key Fire Rescue’s search and rescue training. The Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department dove into the fundamentals of search and rescue during a special training session at a two-story house on the 6400 block of Gulf of Mexico Drive that was scheduled for demolition.

Margaret’s Way

Photo by Sidra Wali

During the Women’s Golf Association end-of-season party, Rick Konsavage and Terry O'Hara present Margaret Lachmann with a sign that will be hung at the back of the locker room building at Longboat Key Club. Lachmann, past president, was awarded the honor of having the back of the locker room building renamed “Margaret's Way.”

Gift from above

Photo by James Peter

Yoga instructor Angela Mali embraces the last of the sun's rays at the end of a class on Longboat Key. Her sunset yoga class meets at Bayfront Park each week and then heads to the beach where Mother Nature ensures a unique experience for the week’s class.

Cooking with friends

Photo by Sidra Wali

Chef Jeremy Thayer and Chef Steve Phelps were among the culinary wizards at the book-signing event for “Cooking with Friends” held at Daiquiri Deck at St. Armands Circle. The cookbook published by Sarasota-based EHS Recruiting Co. combines recipes from dozens of locally known and nationally known chefs. The bookselling drew a crowd, with more than a 1,000 copies sold ahead of the event. 


Honor the fallen

Photo by Sidra Wali

The Bird Key Yacht Club commemorated Memorial Day with remarks from then Vice Commodore and the posting of the colors by young Marines from the Imagine School.

Under sea

Photo by Sidra Wali

This year’s Sarasota Bay Watch Underwater Cleanup tackled the area offshore from New Pass at City Island and Ken Thompson Park and removed almost 800 pounds of trash from the bay.

On watch

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

During sea turtle nesting season, Longboat Key Turtle Watch volunteers start patrols of Longboat beaches at 6:45 a.m. to look for and to mark sea turtle nests to protect them.

At the helm

Photo by Sidra Wali

Commodore Steven Horton shakes hands with outgoing Commodore Lisa Adams during the passing of the gavel ceremony at Bird Key Yacht Club, which marks the annual installation of the club’s new leadership. Horton is the 56th commodore of the club and was vice commodore for the previous watch year. He served 28 years in the U.S. Navy in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps


Full throttle

Photo by Ian Swaby

The 39th annual Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix drew 60 teams of racers to the waters off Lido Beach. Here, the Team SunPrint/Hooters boat piloted by Steven Fehrmann and Steve Miklos of New Port Richey, Florida, speeds past Lido Beach.

Free on the Key

Photo by Petra Rivera

This year’s Freedom Fest saw Tryla Larson, Earl Larson, Cassie Yeager and Mimi Krouk celebrate the Fourth of July in style.

Gift of life

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Longboat Key Chief of Police George Turner tries to donate blood every time the town hosts a drive, he said. The SunCoast Blood Centers collected 13 units of blood at its July drive. The donations are  distributed throughout SunCoast’s network, which includes hospitals like Sarasota Memorial, Manatee Memorial, Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Encompass Health. 

Life aquatic

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Josh Kane and his son, Alex, look through their net to see if they caught anything. Suncoast Waterkeeper hosted a World Mangrove Day Family Celebration & Patrol Boat Christening event at the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. 


Dawn patrol

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Matt Ballew's headlight helps him see during his earl morning trash run, which starts before the sun begins to rise. Reporter Carter Weinhofer accompanied Longboat Key Public Works to learn firsthand who takes out the trash that piles up at the beach.

Heat check

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Training Captain John Elwood puts the blackout shield on Derek Flaim to simulate visibility in an actual fire. Flaim and Longboat Key’s other new fire rescue recruits went through training at the Sarasota County Technical Institute Fire Academy.


Prepare for the worst

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

After Hurricane Ian, no one was taking Idalia lightly, which at one point appeared headed directly before Longboat Key. Public Works Program Manager Charlie Mopps fills a sandbag for residents at the Broadway Beach Public Access. The storm brushed past Longboat Key, flooding some areas, but saved the worst for its landfall in the Big Bend area of northwest Florida.

Key chi

Photo by Petra Rivera

“Everybody is there to support one another,” said Reuben Fernandez, teaching his intermediate tai chi class at The Paradise Center. “It's a big message in our philosophy that everybody should be there to help everybody else to improve in tai chi. Check your ego at the door.” 

Back to the beach

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Longboat Key Fire Rescue received its annual water training from Manatee County Beach Patrol, learning proper techniques to rescue swimmers in distress. 


Fine dining

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Longboat Key Fire Rescue didn’t win the 23rd Annual Morton’s Firehouse Chili Cook-Off but the department got bonus points for style. Firefighter Paramedic Trey Bowlin spent the afternoon in the sun handing out samples of chili, while maintaining an elegant level of service.

Night rider

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

While most are sleeping, the Longboat Police are on patrol, keeping citizens safe. Sergeant Sean Butler is one of those officers, patrolling the island and responding to any calls that may come in. Reporter Carter Weinhofer accompanied Butler on a ridealong and saw a different side of the Key.

Blessed together

Photo by Petra Rivera

Rev. Brock Patterson and his dog, Pippa, at the Longboat Island Chapel’s annual pet blessing. He blessed many dogs that live on Longboat and even a garden snake.


Ribbon runs through it

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

Town officials, project team members and the Karon family joined Mayor Ken Schneier to cut the ribbon the new Karon Family Pavilion.

School’s in

Photo by Petra Rivera

Bill Hatch joined the beginners pickleball workshop Nov. 13 at The Paradise Center for a crash course in the popular court sport.

Anchors aweigh

Photo by Carter Weinhofer

The Downtown Duchess takes passengers on its inaugural ride along the Manatee River. Longboat will likely be the first stop added to the new Gulf Islands Ferry service, said a Manatee County commissioner.


They, three kings

Photo by Petra Rivera

Bruce Shelton, David Lawrence, and Kurt Wilkening donned costumes to portray the three wise men in the St. Armands Key Lutheran Church live Nativity scene.    

Season’s feasting

Photo by Petra Rivera

Where else can you try dozens of small plates and tasty bites from some of the best restaurants in Sarasota and Longboat Key? At the annual Kiwanis Longboat Lawn Party of course, where attendees know that dining on delectables supports a great cause — the Children’s Guardian Fund. 



James Peter

James Peter is the managing editor of the Longboat and Sarasota Observers. He has worked in journalism in a variety of newsroom roles and as a freelance writer for over a decade. Before joining the Observer, he was based in Montana and Colorado.

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