Memorial Day Weekend coming to packed Anna Maria Island

acastillo@bradenton.comMay 22, 2014 

ANNA MARIA ISLAND -- As Memorial Day Weekend nears, some on Anna Maria Island have already begun to feel the holiday frenzy.

For Brianna White, work has been "crazy busy." The co-manager of the Sunrise Garden Resort, 512 Spring Ave. in Anna Maria and Palm Tree Villas, 207 66th St. in Holmes Beach, said the hotels reached full capacity at least two months ago.

"We've had about 10 phone calls within the past two nights looking for availability," she said.

By Wednesday afternoon, White estimated each hotel received about 15 phone calls from people seeking rooms.

"I don't know any place on the island that's not full," she said, adding the Sunrise Garden Resort and Palm Tree Villas will have a full staff working this holiday weekend.

From law enforcement's perspective, Memorial Day Weekend -- like other holidays -- brings a lot to think about.

"The crowds, the amount of people we have out here on the island... with that comes the traffic," said Bradenton Beach Chief of Police Sam Speciale. "Those are major concerns on the holiday weekend."

Speciale said his department has reserve officers work during the holiday weekend, and a small group of deputies from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office provide extra support.

"We have a pretty good group of guys out there on the weekend," he said. "They'll be looking for alcohol on the beach and making sure there are no vehicle burglaries."

Speciale advised those staying in resorts to leave their valuables there.

"If they do have to bring stuff to the beach, don't leave things in the passenger compartment of the car," he said. "Keep an eye out of their surroundings and make sure that people are not watching them."

Angela Rodocker, co-owner and manager of the BridgeWalk Resort in Bradenton Beach, said the resort reached near capacity almost two weeks ago.

"It looks like we have one room left," she said of the resort at 100 Bridge St. "We don't get completely booked up until the days of (the holiday)."

According to Rodocker, this weekend holds special significance.

"Every Memorial Day weekend is the kickoff for the summer," she said. "We expect it to be as busy, if not more so, just because Anna Maria Island has become such an amazing spot for people to come to even just for a day."

In Rodocker's experience, Memorial Day Weekend isn't even the busiest time for the island.

"Our March time frame is really when the island consistently feels that influx," she said, adding Florida daytrippers are the area's market this time of year.

This weekend, most BridgeWalk Resort's guests will be from Florida spots such as Lakeland and surrounding areas -- even folks from Tampa and St. Petersburg, she said.

Bona Wortman, who has been living seasonally in Bradenton Beach's Pines Trailer Park since the 1980s, has no problem with the expected surge of people visiting the island this weekend.

"I hope they come and have fun," she said with a laugh. "When you live in paradise, you realize someone is going to find out about it sooner or later."

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