St Patrick’s Day Parade On Anna Maria Island

Holmes Beach restaurateur Sean Murphy of the Beach Bistro hosted the 17th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Sunday. The popular parade attracts over 15,000 celebrators to enjoy the free event consisting of floats, bands, cars, animals, boats and walkers. It is open to all-comers.

The parade participants assembled at the Holmes Beach City Hall field at 2 pm and began moving at 4 pm north up Marina Drive and Palm Drive to 78th Street. Large crowds lined the route on the mild, sunny day. Local area school bands and pipe bands pumped out their music, floats’ riders threw out candy and beads, and decorated golf carts, cars and trucks carried local business owners.

It doesn’t take only an Irishman to enjoy the sounds and sights of a St. Patrick’s parade, and the animals and ornaments thrilled children and adults alike. Green was the theme but the celebration was for everyone.

Freezing on Anna Maria Island

Winter walk winter surfDid Anna Maria Island feel colder than usual this winter? While northern states were blanketed in record-breaking snowfalls and experienced long periods of sub-freezing temperatures, the Sun Coast of Florida prepared for the expected winter chills. Cold fronts usually reach deep into south Florida as the cold air sinks down from the north.  But how did it really fare?

Looking at February’s recorded temperatures in Bradenton reveals that highs and lows appear lower than the long-term averages, but not breaking any historic records. There were the usual days of cold winds and rain showers but wet-suited surfers enjoyed some better waves and the beach was always interesting for brisk walks. Drier air was a treat and appropriate clothing kept in body heat.

February temperatures

The only gripe could be a slightly higher heating bill but nothing like the shocks that August cooling costs. The increased traffic delays from tourists and seasonal visitors may have raised a few temperatures as more and more people discover Anna Maria Island’s unique charm.

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Anna Maria Island Braces For Peak Holiday

What’s happening Valentine’s Day and President’s Day weekend? There’s a lot going on in the area and crowds and traffic congestion are assured. Go early, leave late but you’ll have to be patient. Take the shuttle bus to avoid hunting for a parking spot for your vehicle but expect to be at the mercy of slow traffic.

Jazz Festival Thursday, 12th, Sandbar Pavilion, 100 Spring Ave, Anna Maria City

JazzFest Anna Maria

JazzFest Anna Maria

Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk

Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk

Holmes Beach Art District Art Walk

Cortez Fishing Festival, Saturday/Sunday 14th/15th, 119th St W, Cortez

Cortez Fishing Festival 2015

Cortez Fishing Festival 2015

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Anna Maria Island’s Most Beautiful Visitors: White Pelicans

White Pelicans try to take a Brown Pelican's fish

White Pelicans try to take a Brown Pelican’s fish.

For my first few years living on Anna Maria Island, I had only heard of white pelicans, but never had seen them. Eventually, my curiosity prompted me to go look for them. I had heard there were some at the south part of the island in Anna Maria Sound. At first, I thought I’d found them. They looked white, but they were in many ways similar to the more common local Brown Pelicans. Soon I learned Brown Pelicans have white heads and necks when they are adults, but not breeding. This is all I had seen.

Later I learned the best place to see the American White Pelican in this area was Cortez fishing village, and this is where I found them. On the occasion of my first American White Pelican spotting, there was no question about what it was. It was gigantic compared to the local browns. The wingspan of the white is 9 feet, compared to 7 feet for the brown. The white pelican also looks completely white when it floats in the water. The black primary and secondary flight feathers on the wings are only obvious during flight.

Other than size and color, the most obvious difference between Brown Pelicans and American White Pelicans is their feeding behavior. Brown Pelicans glide in the air, then do apparently awkward dives, splashing loudly into the water with a strange twist, but usually recovering with a pouch full of fish. White pelicans do not dive; instead they forage for fish in a methodical way. Sometimes they even swim as a group in a formation, moving the fish toward the shore or into narrow areas where they can be more easily caught.

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Anna Maria Island Lighted Boat Parade

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