ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- A joke among two friends turned into a political statement through bumper stickers to show Anna Maria Island elected officials the economic value of having daily visitors to the beaches.
Palmetto resident Charmian Miller and her friend, Debbie Pinkley, decided to produce and sell bumper stickers that will read "AMI Day Tripper."
"It started out as a joke, then we realized it was a really good idea," said Miller.
She and her business partner will be on the Palma Sola Causeway from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday selling the stickers for $3 from their pontoon boat, "Slow Motion." Miller said anyone who agrees with them can come by and hang out.
"We will be out there for the day, Anyone who wants to come support day trippers are welcome," Miller said.
Miller said this campaign started after she was offended by a letter to the Bradenton Herald from a reader who said Anna Maria Island Mayor SueLynn and Holmes Beach Mayor Carmel Monti wanted to restrict non-Anna Maria Island residents, or "day trippers," from coming to the beaches.
"The way it was worded came out totally wrong on their part," said Miller, a former island resident. "We're local people and you don't want us on the beach? That's ridiculous."
SueLynn, who knew nothing of the sticker sale, said words have been put in her mouth throughout the whole "day tripper" issue. She said her comments were taken out of context.
"I didn't say there should be a toll to come on the beach," Lynn said. "I said the beach has reached its saturation point on the number of people we can handle at any given time."
She said the feedback from her constituents has been positive, but feedback from residents in the other cities of Manatee County is not.
SueLynn said she welcomes all people to the beaches, but said visitors need to be respectful of city regulations and residents' properties.
"I have nothing against people coming here, but help us keep the beaches as clean as they are," said SueLynn,
She also said a small percentage of people do not respect the beaches and violate laws.
"They park in the right-of-ways. They are stealing things from people's porches. People are urinating in yards," said SueLynn.
Monti agreed. He said his main concern is making sure visitors are mindful of the law and respectful.
"All we want is that respect," said Monti. "Don't leave trash and break the law. Everyone is welcome on the island, always have been, always will be."
SueLynn said the Anna Maria City Commission will meet at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 to discuss possible solutions to the problem.
Janey Tate, city of Bradenton and Palmetto reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7041. You can follow her on Twitter at Janey_Tate.