Posted: 4:15 am Wednesday, July 25th, 2018
By Ann Kelly
Residents of Anna Maria Island take a great deal of pride in their island home and rightly so. The iconic City Pier, beautiful views and the many shops and restaurants make for a wonderful way of life. But Hurricane Irma was anything but kind to the Pier and it’s now almost completely dismantled. Last Sunday I decided to see the sunrise myself and took the early morning trip across the Sunshine Skyway. While standing in front of what was left of the Pier I met a local man by the name of Brent Van Winkle. I had to smile when I realized I knew he was an islander right away – it wasn’t a go-cup from any coffee shop in his hand. It was his own mug filled with green tea. We had a great talk about the island, plans for the future and why he loves living on Anna Maria. Brent said the Pier is supposed to be rebuilt by the end of 2019, but the The City Pier restaurant won’t be built and open for business for some time after that. How ironic that one of that last remaining parts of the entrance to the Pier is the menu, still in the case and just waiting for another day sometime down the road.
I did wonder about those memory boards that were such an important part of the walk out onto the Pier. Those have been returned to the families of those honored and for those the city wasn’t able to track down, they’re being held in the hopes of one day putting them in their hands. That’s respect. The sea turtles haven’t abandoned Anna Maria Island either. The nests are protected and watched over, and some eggs have started to hatch.
Anna Maria Island has long been a favorite place of mine to run away from the world and just relax and forget about whatever is stressing me out. It will stay that way and I look forward to more meals at Ginny and Jane E’s on Gulf Drive, walks on the beach and sometime back out on The City Pier. It will be back as will I. Thanks for a nice chat Brent, see you again soon.