BRADENTON BEACH -- To the left of the Historic Bridge Street Pier are a few tidy streets lined by mobile homes. Each trailer stands on its own in color and personality -- creating a mosaic against the grey pavement.
Together, the homes make up Pines Trailer Park, a 55-plus community nestled on Anna Maria Island in the city of Bradenton Beach.
It's where residents play shuffleboard on Monday mornings and, during the weekends, chat over pancakes in the park's clubhouse. It's where they keep an eye out for one another. And in the springtime, it's where one resident says green parrots hang upside down from the phone wires outside.
The park dates back to the 1940s, according to Carolyne Norwood, Director Emeritus of the Anna Maria Island Historical Society Museum and Historical Park. Mair Allinson, a docent for the museum, said the park was first used by families who were part of a traveling circus.
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"Other visitors decided to stay and make it their place," she said.
Jackson Partnership has been the owner of the trailer park since 1976. The park has 87 residences. Residents own their homes but pay to rent the lot the homes sit on.
"This park is paradise," said Ellen Scott, a resident since 1998. The 75-year-old, who up until a month ago served as president of the park's Tenants Association, spoke from inside her cozy mobile home. Nearby, two cockatiels chirped away by a window.
The association organizes social functions for residents, which include zumba classes and movie nights.
According to Scott, there's more camaraderie in Pines Trailer Park than in other neighborhoods.
"People look out for each other -- if somebody is sick, we check on them all the time," she said, adding that a woman on the next street
called her up at 12:30 a.m. the other night because she was experiencing pains.
"I took her to the hospital and sat with her all night," she said.
Recently, a man suffered a heart attack in the neighboring street. Scott said neighbors helped his other half close up her trailer home so she could return to New York.
"The residents are all good residents," she said.
Since 67-year-old Carol Findlay moved into the park 11 years ago, she said the area has become more crowded with tourists -- and traffic has increased.
"The park itself has taken on a vibrant look," said the retiree, who sat comfortably on her living room couch. "People have remodeled and painted in nice bright colors."
The park and the area surrounding it are perfect for walks, Findlay added.
New resident Mike Flanigan sat on a white wicker chair outside his home. The 65-year-old and his partner decided on Pines Trailer Park after exploring other trailer parks.
"You can walk to entertainment, you can walk to the beach," he said. "There's always somewhere to go and something to do."
Over on Laverne Drive, 73-year-old Rose Vincent sat at her kitchen table playing cribbage with her friend, 72-year-old Deanna Ayers.
Vincent and her husband, Bill, the current president of the park's Homeowners Association, found Pines Trailer Park by accident while visiting relatives. They returned a few times before moving in seven years ago.
To Vincent, the neighborhood holds a strong sense of community which shone this past January, when she and her husband had to remove a big tree from their yard that was hollowing.
"The day came to cut the tree down and people just came out of the woodworks with their shovels and work gloves to help us because we had to remove the whole garden," she said.
That day had great meaning for Vincent.
"That's what we miss a lot with our modern days -- unless you grew up in a neighborhood and stayed there -- that community feeling is hard to find," she said.
Most of the park's residents hail from other states.
"You can count on different walks from life, like a retired RN... you've got some retired firemen -- people you can count on in an emergency," said Ayers, who is originally from Pennsylvania and has lived in Pines Trailer Park for more than a decade.
Ayers suffers from macular degeneration, which has caused her to become visually impaired. Pines Trailer Park's proximity to Anna Maria Island's free trolley, the post office, the Tingley Memorial Library and more makes it an ideal place to live for the retired medical technologist, who said she doesn't have to depend on anyone.
With regards to the park, one area of concern stands out to Rose Vincent.
"People are riding down the street on Segways and also skateboards. They go very fast -- sometimes they go in groups, and sometimes there's just one or two," she said. "It's dangerous because we have a lot of people here who aren't real mobile or can't see."
As these outsiders zoom by, Vincent said residents go out and yell at them. She chuckled.
"Sometimes they're very nice about it and they apologize ... and some aren't very nice," she said.
Bill Vincent's sister, Carol Harrington, is the current president of the Tenants Association. The retiree said the activities the group organizes change as the community changes with the coming and going of residents.
"One of the old activities that was played here was military whist -- that's something we never really heard of," she said with a laugh about the old card game.
Sometimes, when she and her husband, Mike, return up north, they visit other residents from the park.
"They're very friendly, good people," she said of her neighbors. "We're enjoying our retirement years between the Gulf and the Bay with a great group to socialize with."
Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.