Anna Maria Island is a wonderful place to be during the Christmas holidays. The weather can be wonderful, and festivities abound, but it’s not crowded. That’s partly because some people who love the island still feel obligated by, or attracted to, winter in the North. So, although many winter residents start returning to the island before Christmas, others don’t … and some go back north briefly during Christmas, leaving the island to the rest of us who stay.
In December the island may have some of those exquisite days that everyone longs for. I often think of them as what would be “perfect summer days” in other parts of the country. Finally, the mornings are cool and the middle of the day can be comfortable in short sleeves. Of course, we do get cold spells from time to time. We remember one year wearing our down ski parkas to watch a holiday boat parade. But this year, we wore T-shirts for that same event. We were on a boat, and in the dark, out in Tampa Bay. There was no need for a sweater.
Most islanders will say there was no Christmas boat parade on the island this year. But we had our own impromptu parade, when several friends decorated their boats with lights and invited us to take a slow cruise around Bimini Bay and out into the Gulf, to the Anna Maria Island City Pier. Along the way, we heard adults and children call out “Merry Christmas” to us. We even saw cameras flashing, which, of course, is not the best way to photograph tiny holiday lights in the distance.
The water was perfectly glassy and there was no breeze. Even with motors running, there was something peaceful and mesmerizing about the whole experience of gliding through water with tiny lights above, and their reflections shimmering all around us in the water.
Sometimes the festivities people create spontaneously for themselves are much more enjoyable than more organized, institutional events. That was certainly the case with this private boat parade.
But the newspapers are full of additional holiday ideas for anyone who is not feeling very creative or spontaneous. Last weekend, Winterfest attracted many art lovers and holiday shoppers to an extremely well-organized arts and crafts fair, all for the benefit of the Anna Maria Island Art League. Next weekend, the Anna Maria Island Orchestra and Chorus will perform their holiday concert. There are many more special events listed for the holidays and into next year.
Wherever you spend your winter holiday season … whether you’ll be sweeping sand or shoveling snow … we at Anna Maria Island Post wish you the very best, and a happy 2010.