An estimated 8,000 people packed Coquina and Manatee County Public beaches Sunday, the prelude to Independence Day at the beaches, which could draw 10,000 for Monday’s holiday.
It was hot, humid and hazy-overcast for most of Sunday, but that didn’t keep people from outdoor activities, including windsurfing, swimming, boating, loafing in the surf of the Gulf of Mexico on inflatible plastic toys or scooting around Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and Anna Maria on skateboards, bicycles and Segways.
But of the 8,000 people at the beach Sunday, few could top the beach resume of Judy Glenn.
This is the best place to be in the world.
Judy Glenn, Coquina Beach lover
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Glenn, who is 70-ish, lives in the mobile home community of Floridana, 304 52nd Ave. Terrace W., Bradenton, but don’t try to look for her there. She is rarely home. She is the epitome of a beach lover.
Glenn spends most of every day at Coquina Beach. She is as brown as a coffee bean and loves being that color.
She arrives by 7:30 a.m. and walks for about a half hour, looking for shells. Then, she hangs out for awhile with her friend of three decades, Bill Biscontine, at the little cafe at the southern end of Coquina Beach. Glenn is such a regular at the cafe that she turns the chairs down in the morning.
“This is the best place to be in the world,” Glenn said on Sunday, while sitting on her beach chair and watching nearby family cookouts.
Two plastic parrot clothespins purchased at Bath and Beyond hold her towel to the back of the beach chair.
She always sports a pink Anna Maria Island visor.
Glenn is a breast cancer survivor. She credits her survival to Coquina Beach. She says her daily walks fill her body and soul with positiveness. That might sound kind of kooky. But Glenn is about the most down-to-earth person one could meet. She is in touch with what makes her happy, she said.
“My doctor doesn’t like it that I spend so much time at the beach because of my cancer but I just tell him, ‘I go for my health,’” she says with a smile. “I like being brown.”
“When I come at 7:30 a.m., it is quiet, dawn has come up, and I shell,” she add, describing the activity of looking for surf cast shells.
She collects shells for children in Bradenton who don’t get to come to the beach because their families have too busy a schedule.
It is often said that if you find something you love to do, you will meet people who share your passion. Biscontine doesn’t walk anymore, but he comes every morning to the cafe near Coquina lifeguard stand No. 2 and drinks cold water and just enjoys the beach, just like Glenn.
Glenn is also friends now with all the lifeguards, including Collin Schmidt and Jay Millard, who were on duty Sunday. Glenn’s hobby, besides walking and shelling, is baking. She likes to bake cakes for the lifeguards.
“She is easy to become friends with,” Biscontine said of Glenn. “Her walking is astounding. She’s full of energy. She might be a mermaid. That might be where she comes from.”
“That’s where I’m going,” Glenn chimed in.
Glenn wants her ashes to be scattered on Anna Maria Island.
Orlando church brings 110 to Coquina
Myrna Perrier came to Coquina Beach at 5 a.m. Sunday and claimed 14 picnic tables for a July 4 weekend celebration of her church, End Time Sabbath Worship Center, 2150 Brengle Ave., Orlando.
“We heard so much about Bradenton that we decided we needed to come and check it out,” Perrier said.
There were some adults but the majority of the church members who attended were from the youth church.
None of the youths knew where they would be going until the last minute. In fact, Perrier and fellow church leader Junon Brutus called it “Paradise Beach.”
They cooked hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken and sent a video message to their pastor, the Rev. Ronald Jean-Baptiste, who is on vacation in Boston.
“Pastor, we are having fun, the water is beautiful and everyone is nice,” Perrier said.
“As long as there is food I am happy,” added choir member Kevin Jeune.
The church delivers most of its services in the French, Creole and English languages.
“Our church is mainly Haitian and French, but we welcome people from all cultures,” said church member Belschatsar Bonzil.
Since Bradenton greeted the church members with warmth, they said that anyone from Bradenton should stop by their church on a Sunday so they can return the kindness.
“We have enjoyed God’s creation and met wonderful people today,” Bonzil said.