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Mom’s search takes her to new ‘heights’

Maggie Cucci hates to lose things.

The kids can’t find shoes or iPods? Mom can.

Dad’s Rays’ ballcap? Ditto.

“Mommy finds stuff,” Cucci said.

Even found a bride’s wedding dress last month.

That required some doing, and Cucci took it to another level, literally and figuratively.

Try the Lena Road County Landfill.

“I know. Bizarre,” she said.

Husband Anthony’s reaction when she called him en route was apropos:

“You’re doing WHAT?”

Cucci works at the Sandbar, which hosts 200 weddings annually. As bridal suite attendant, she keeps the area tidy, and she did so after an Indiana couple’s nuptials in late June.

Then the bride’s father came by the next day for the wedding dress — not a flowing, traditional gown, but a small number.

Turns out it was with some wadded up dry cleaning bags.

Which Cucci tossed.


As luck would have it, a Waste Management truck had just made its regular stop at the Sandbar and was landfill-bound.

Fighter pilots don’t scramble as fast as Cucci.

Mom had a mission.

“I had to find that dress,” she said. “It was the right thing to do.”

Grabbing children Joey, 11, and Mary Grace, 6, and followed by the bride’s father, Cucci was off.

Alerted by the Sandbar, the landfill knew a wedding dress recovery was about to get under way.

“Honey, they’re up there waiting for you,” said the woman pointing from the gate booth.

Assisted by sanitation workers, Team Cucci waded in, sifting through the location of the Sandbar’s garbage for the next hour.

Fish and shrimp carcasses. Maggots. Flies.

The kids got grossed out and returned to the car.

Mom understood.

“It was disgusting,” she said.

Along with two workers, Cucci and the bride’s father pressed on, even as it began to rain.

Finally, they found the dress, safe inside its bag.

There was jubilation.

“We were screaming in the pouring rain,” Cucci said.

Then she drove home and took the longest hot bath of her life.

Mannix About Manatee, by local columnist Vin Mannix,is about people and issues in Manatee County. Please call Vin Mannix at 745-7055, write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or e-mail him at Please include a phone number for verification.