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Grand Prix Festival starts Saturday

by Roger Pettingell

Economic impact on county is highlighted

Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix visitors increase when Music Festival ends

Powerboats make their way out to the Gulf of Mexico
The Grand Prix Festival returns starting Saturday.

While the Sarasota Music Festival wraps up Saturday with the world premiere of Luminous Bodies, a commissioned chamber event by yMusic, the next festival begins to kick off, the Sarasota Powerboat Grand Prix. Thousands will have traveled to Sarasota to attend either event as the hotels empty, then fill again for the Grand Prix with its many events June 23 to July 4.

The first event for the Grand Prix is the Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic, Saturday with an 8:30 AM start at The Meadows Country Club in Sarasota. Now in its third year, this memorial to the one-time owner of Bob Rizi Plumbing, he supported Sarasota non-profits and was on the board of Suncoast Charities for Children. His chairmanship of the Grand Prix Golf Classic were his ties to the Grand Prix and the golf tournament. He died in June of 2016.

On Sunday from 10 AM to 3 PM, automobile aficionados will want to attend the Car Show at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. On the grounds will be live music and food vendors. Trophies will be awarded in different categories of automobiles, enter your car for $20 at the gate. Admission is $5 each and free to children under 12. Among the other events, there will be a super duty truck display and a ride-in motorcycle show.

Also on Sunday boat owners can get involved in the Boat and Personal Watercraft Fun Run. Following registration at Marina Jack at 10 AM, the shotgun poker run start at 11 AM has a course of the Seafood Shack, The Old Salty Dog and The Bridge Tender on Bradenton Beach. The best poker hand wins $300, while second best wins $200 and third best wins $100. Your $20 entry fee includes lunch at Marina Jack and an event T-shirt.

Comedian Ron Feingold from Orlando performs next Wednesday at McCurdy’s Comedy Club in downtown Sarasota. He blends one-man A Cappella songs with his comedy for an entertaining performance. He has an extensive travel circuit of casinos, colleges and comedy clubs. A welcome reception for Ron at the Grand Prix Comedy Night starts at 5:30 PM, followed by the show at 7 PM.

The Friendliest Catch Fishing Tournament is also next Wednesday at the Sarasota Outboard Club. This is limited as a private event for clients of Suncoast Charities for Children agencies. Proceeds from many of the Grand Prix events go to support this charity organization.

Kettle of Fish, a popular local band classic rock and their own music, will perform at the Grand Prix Kickoff Party June 28 in the grand foyer of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. Island casual dress for this event starting at 6 PM. Your $150 admission buys an evening of music, open bar, 50/50 raffle and silent auction. Mattison’s Bayside will have food stations throughout the venue. Purchase tickets through the Grand Prix website.

Meet and get autographs of the boat drivers next Friday at the Meet & Greet, Who’s in the Driver’s Seat event at the Hyatt Regency Hotel ballroom from 2 to 3:30 PM. Admission is a $5 donation for adults, 18 and under will be let in for free. This is the time to meet the racers who have traveled from around the world to participate in the Grand Prix. Get selfies of team pilots who will be autographing hero cards and giving out special gifts during this family event.

Miss Geico team in 2014
The popular Geico team returns as a superstock panther race team June 30 and July 1

Following the Meet & Greet there will be a Boats by the Bay free open party starting at 6 PM. This event was moved from Main Street (Boats on Main) in Sarasota to the Van Wezel parking lot this year. One of the most popular events during this party is the annual Miss Powerboat P1 Swimwear contest. First place winner receives $1,000, followed by second place at $750 and third at $500. The contest is limited to the first 20 to sign up and contestants must not include any indecent gestures for this family-oriented event.

Saturday, June 30, is the best day for race fans with a few events geared for spectators and motorcycle riders. Racing for superstock, production class & personal watercraft begins at 8:30 AM with the first heat for the AquaX class boats. Free live action viewing is best from the Lido Beach area. For motorcyclists, the annual Coastal Cruise Motorcycle Charity Ride is Saturday, starting at 9:30 PM in the Rossiter’s Harley Davidson parking lot. The route is out to Longboat Key and then back to the Finz Find tent at the Fan Fest party. Cash prizes are $300, $150 and $50 while one winner will receive a pair of tickets to the VIP viewing area Sunday on Lido Beach. The Fan Fest heats up at 10 AM, while the boats are in final preparation for racing in the Van Wezel parking lot.

Watch live streaming of races in the Van Wezel parking lot as Fan Fest continues on Sunday at 10 AM. The sold out VIP option at the Sandcastle Resort on Lido Beach has a special shuttle arranged for VIP ticket holders. The racing schedule resumes with the third heat of the AquaX class PWCs at 8:30 AM. There is a full day of racing that also concludes superstocks, super vees and super cats. You can view the full race schedule here or below, subject to change. Drivers will receive their awards beginning at 5:30 PM during Fan Fest.

The AquaX platforms are personal watercraft classes that are either enduro or sprint, with further divisions of amateur or pro. The enduro runs are two miles in length while sprints are typically limited to an eighth of a mile. Two-person teams of pilot and throttleman race in the powerboat platforms of stock, vee and cats. Generally limited to 50 feet in length, these boats can travel up to 200 mph. Hulls shaped as a V compete in the vee class while two-hulled boats compete in the Catamaran, or cat division.

Grand Prix Fireworks on Monday

The Sarasota Grand Prix officially comes to a close with the Spectacular Bayfront fireworks display on Wednesday. The Sarasota skies will be lit up with viewing throughout downtown Sarasota. Check the schedule of rooftop bars, but lawn chair viewing is also wonderful at Island and Bayfront parks. Boaters can anchor at a safe distance in the bay.

There is a great economic impact the Grand Prix has on the area. Last year the event attracted nearly 11,000 out-of-state and 36,000 in-state visitors to Sarasota to view the races. Add to that an additional 2,161 international spectators, media, organizers and participants and the amount of money generated is worth the cost of the Grand Prix. The total output was tallied at over $36 million that poured into the local economy. That also brought in $1,381,178 in state sales tax. The county received over a half million dollars in local sales, state reimbursement and hotel taxes. A breakdown is reported here.

2018 Powerboat Festival Schedule at a Glance

Date Event Location Time
June 23 Bob Rizi Memorial Golf Classic Meadows Country Club 8:30AM
June 24 Car Show Sarasota Fairgrounds 10AM-3PM
June 24 Boat & PWC Fun Run Marina Jack, Sarasota 11AM
June 27 Fishing Tournament (Private) Sarasota Outboard Club 9AM
June 27 Grand Prix Comedy Night McCurdy's Comedy Theatre 5:30PM
June 28 Kickoff Party Van Wezel Parking Lot 6PM-10PM
June 29 Driver’s Autograph Session Hyatt Regency Ballroom 2PM-3:30PM
June 29 Boats by the Bay Party Van Wezel Parking Lot 6PM-11PM
June 29 Miss Powerboat P1 contest Van Wezel Parking Lot 6:30AM-10:30PM
June 30 Motorcycle Charity Ride Rossiter's Harley-Davidson 9:30AM-11AM
June 30 Grand Prix Fan Fest Van Wezel Parking Lot 10AM-6PM
June 30 Grand Prix Races Lido Key beach 8:30AM-5PM
July 1 Grand Prix Fan Fest Van Wezel Parking Lot 10AM-6PM
July 1 VIP viewing (Sold Out) Sandcastle Resort at Lido Beach 10AM-4PM
July 1 Grand Prix Races Lido Key beach 8:30AM-4PM
July 1 Race Team Awards Van Wezel Parking Lot 5:30PM
July 4 Fireworks Spectacular Island Park, Sarasota 9PM

Saturday Race Schedule at a Glance

Event Times
AquaX Pro Race 1 8:30AM-9:30AM
Superstock Practice + Race 1,2 9:30AM-10:30AM
P1-3, P4-6 Races 11AM-12:30PM
Official Testing 12:30PM-3:30PM
AquaX Race 2 4PM

Sunday Race Schedule at a Glance

Event Times
AquaX Race 3 8:30AM
P1 Superstock Race 3&4 9:15AM
Super Vee Lite Class Race 10:30AM
Superstock 300 Class Race 12PM
Super Cat Class Race 1:30PM
Unlimited/Super Vee Class Race 3PM
Awards Ceremony 5:30PM

We know that Florida is a great place to relax after working years saving up for retirement. Last week Jacquelyn Pica, contributing writer for U.S. News and World Report and staff writer for the Penny Hoarder, wrote that Sarasota was one of eight best places to retire in the Sunshine State. She was especially kind to the Gulf coast cities in her selections. She cited Sarasota’s culture, museums and beautiful gardens as some of the reasons for her ranking. She also made her ranking based on the modest median home value of $189,400 and population of retirees at 30 percent. In October of last year Sarasota was ranked Number 1 in a U.S. News analysis of 100 potential U.S. retirement cities. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.


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Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez

by Roger Pettingell

Coastal Community Celebration last week

Admission is free to this little museum gem devoted to fishing culture

Burton/Bratton Store and Albion Inn
Little Drummer Boy — Someday this child may understand the significance of the historic Burton Store porch he was on during last week's celebration.

There are some great museums in Sarasota and Bradenton. The Ringling Museum and South Florida Museum immediately come to mind. There is a lesser known museum in Cortez that celebrates the history of the fishing town, the Florida Maritime Museum. Its celebration last week on the beginning of World Ocean’s Day featured the ribbon cutting for the Burton Store and the opening of the temporary interactive Meaning Behind Maritime exhibit.

The mission of this museum shares the town economic resource in that it is a fishing village. The importance is celebrated each year during the Commercial Fishing Festival in February that attracts thousands to this small coastal community in Manatee County. The museum's accomplishments in collecting, preserving and sharing maritime artifacts is deeply rooted in the mission.

Thursday marked the reopening of the historic Burton Store, the first commercial building within the village. Originally built in 1890 as a fishing dock storage shed, the store was enlarged and later expanded to become the Albion Inn. It was severely damaged by a hurricane in 1921. A portion was salvaged and moved in 2006 to its current location on museum grounds where the process of restoration began.

The Meaning Behind Maritime exhibit explores what maritime may mean to visitors. In one interactive display visitors use color string to tie together 24 different words to express the meaning of the word, maritime. So if the word boating is your choice, you can run your string between that and fishing. Continue to string as many words together until your maritime meaning is complete. Another part of this exhibit allows your toddler to be the captain of a boat. This exhibit ends July 19.

Cortez Coastal Community Celebration at the Florida Maritime Museum
Guest attendance was high during the Coastal Community Celebration at the Maritime Museum.

The next temporary exhibit will begin August 3 with a reception from 5:30 PM to 7 PM. It will feature the connection between Tarpon Springs and the Bahamas. Dr. Tina Bucuvalas will discuss the intertwined history of the Greek sponge industry of the two locations. Sponge gathering by the Greeks has been an important maritime business since the 19th century, explored in this exhibit that runs through February 2. Dr. Bucuvalas has been involved in writing five books on Greek culture.

There are permanent exhibits too in the one-time schoolhouse originally built in 1912. Have a docent guide you through the many artifacts of the museum or take a self-guided tour. Review the history of the village through photographs of what fishing meant to the citizens. Explore the use of their tools and commercial fishing gear.

Research Florida’s Gulf coast through the library of books in the museum. Museum members have the privilege of checking these manuscripts out of the library. The library houses many other records of the past. Start your journey on their website at, where you can search the records and articles before your visit. The website displays many links to resources on coastal history.

Florida Maritime Museum 1912 Schoolhouse on the Cortez Nature Preserve
Florida Maritime Museum - On the grounds of the Cortez Nature Preserve, the renovated 1912 schoolhouse serves as a museum to preserve Florida fishing and maritime artifacts and knowledge.

Museum curators and experts give lectures on topics that reflect the Gulf coast heritage and its resources. Spaced about a month apart topics of dolphins, seagrass importance and SCUBA diving are scheduled. A traveling trunk is an interactive lecture for all ages, engaging those on an experience to explore an underwater archaeological find. There are also classes at its Folk School, starting with an interesting Painting With a Fish class tomorrow at 9:30 AM. Recipes are shared in their cooking classes. Other classes include such topics as Native Coastal Plants on June 22 at 10 AM. You can register for classes and pay tuition through If you have a topic to teach visit their website for an application.

The Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Courts sponsors the museum. Funding is also provided by donations and museum memberships. Volunteers aid the full-time staff of four in supporting the functions of the museum open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM. The museum closes on Sundays and Mondays, and Thanksgiving and Christmas weekends. The museum is also closed on Independence Day and at other times for maintenance. Kristin Sweeting is the museum supervisor, Alexis Schofield is the education & volunteer coordinator, Casey Wooster is the curator and Danielle Dankenbring is the visitor services coordinator. There are five members on the board of directors. Admission is free but donations are gladly accepted.

lionfish filet demonstration at Cortez Coastal Community Celebration
Invasive Species — A lionfish filet demonstration during the Coastal Community Celebration last week at the museum in Cortez.
Florida Maritime Museum displays
Large and small displays — There are many artifacts exhibited at the museum, some from local underwater archaeological discoveries.

Explore the museums in the area to better understand the culture and history of the area. Don’t forget this Manatee County gem that sits on four acres of land in the Cortez Nature Preserve. And when you are ready, please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.


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It's Sarasota Music Festival time!

by Roger Pettingell

Concert series begins Thursday

Under the direction of Jeffrey Kahane, festival runs through June 23

Sarasota Opera House, 61 N. Pineapple Ave, Sarasota, FL 34236
Friday Festivals and Saturday Symphonies will be at the Sarasota Opera House on N. Pineapple Ave.

Today is the official start of the Sarasota Music Festival, three weeks of classical music that attracts fans, 60 students and 40 masters from around the world. Now in its 54th year, the excitement runs high with 50 classic works packed into 12 performances, Thursday through Sunday in each of the weeks. These programs are designed so that no two are alike, giving you a choice of your favorite concerts or an opportunity to see them all with completely different programs each night.

Mondays through Wednesdays, the students learn from the masters in hopes that someday they will achieve master status. These gifted students from 10 different countries auditioned for the privilege of learning and performing the classics. In the morning you may catch a glimpse of these young artists walking the streets of downtown Sarasota as they trek to their assigned classrooms. They are recognizable carrying wind or stringed instrument cases. It all begins today.

But it really began when over 500 musicians from schools around the globe auditioned for the 60 spots of the festival, designated as the Official Teaching and Performing Festival of the State of Florida by the legislature in 1984. Their talent will be observed in three Rising Star ensembles the first two Sundays of the festival and Thursday of the final week at 3 PM in Holley Hall. Tickets are wonderfully priced at $10 for each recital by calling (941) 953-3434 or by visiting the Sarasota Orchestra website.

The masters assemble for symphonies and chamber music Thursday through Saturday. Love Songs on Thursday starting at 4:30 PM is the first Artist Showcase in the pleasant Holley Hall chamber with general admission and balcony seating. Four pieces will be performed, a Quintet for Piano and Wind Instruments, an early work by Beethoven will open the performance. Poems by Toni Morrison were set to music by composer Andre Previn in Four Songs. The program will conclude with compositions of romance for the piano and viola.

Brilliantly Baroque opens the first of three Friday Festivals, four programs of chamber music from two of the Baroque master composers, Back and Vivaldi. Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C Minor, BWV 1060 and Keyboard Concerto in F Major with two Obbligato Flutes, BWV 1057 are interspersed with Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Cellos in G Minor, RV 531 and Summer from The Four Seasons, RV 315. The Friday Festival concerts begin at 8 PM in the Sarasota Opera House.

The festival continues in the opera house on Saturday with full symphonic background to one of the finest young violinists, Angelo Xiang Yu, performing Bruch’s Violin Concerto No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 26. It is the second concerto of the evening in the program Afternoon of a Faun. The program begins with its prelude by composer Debussy and concludes with a Mozart symphony composition No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543.

Rising Stars - Scholarships for Sarasota Music Festival
Rising Stars — Scholarships were offered to 60 students among the 500 musicians who auditioned for the 2018 Sarasota Music Festival. They will perform in the Rising Stars series and ensembles of acclaimed professionals throughout the festival.

Following the Rising Star program on Sunday, it’s back to the classroom leading up to the next round on June 14, Musical Treasures in the Artist Showcase 2. Mozart combined the piano with stringed instrument for the opening of chamber music in the Quartet No. 2 in E-flat Major, K. 493. Wind instruments follow in Ligeti’s Six Bagatelles while a memorial to victims of the Holocaust concludes the program, Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor, Op. 67 by Shotakovich.

Appalachian Spring is a four-part program for the second Friday Festival on June 15. The full symphony is brought together for the opener, La création du monde, Op. 81, a composition by Milhaud on the Creation of the World. Copland’s Appalachian Spring is followed by a Jonathon Spivey piano solo, Norwegian Peasant Dances, Op. 72 composition by Grieg. The evening ends with a String Quintet in E-flat Major, Op. 97 concerto by Dvorak.

An Overture on Hebrew Themes, Op. 34 composed by Prokofiev in 1919 leads the Influence and Individuality Saturday Symphony 2 on June 16. Vijay Venkatesh follows with a solo performance of Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor, Op. 22 by Saint-Saens, followed by Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, Op. 48.

In the Artist Showcase 3, Life’s Passions is a four-part program on June 21 featuring piano recitals by Robert Levin and Jeffrey Kahane in two of Schubert’s compositions, Allegro in A Minor, D 947 and Rondo in A Major, D. 951. The evening begins with a Gieseking composition, Sonatine and concludes with Beethoven’s Piano Trio No. 5 in D Major, Op. 70 No. 1.

The Friday Festival winds down the series with the Summer Serenades program. This three-part concert on June 22 combines Serenade in C Major, Op. 10 by Dohnanyi, Serenade No. 11 in E-flat Major, K. 375 by Mozart and a Brahms composition Piano Quartet No. 1 in G Minor, Op. 25, nicknamed Gypsy.

Holley Hall at the Beatrice Friedman Symphony Center, 709 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236
Artist Showcases and the Rising Star student series will be held at Holley Hall each week of the festival.

Luminous Bodies, a work commissioned for Robert Sirota by the Sarasota Music Festival makes its world premiere in the final Saturday Symphony as a grand finale to the festival. Luminous Bodies was composed for a Generation Y ensemble of musicians aptly named yMusic, a popular program which made its debut in the festival last year. Kahane begins the program with Piano Concerto No. 27 in B flat, K. 595 by Mozart while conducting from the piano. The grand finale to the evening and the festival is Schumann’s composition Symphony No. 3 in E-flat Major, Op. 97.

The entire series of concerts is under the direction of Kahane, now in his second year as the music director of the festival. He succeeds Levine and Paul Wolfe, the only other directors who have guided the program since its beginnings in 1965. Levine will give a lecture on music, June 20 at 1:30 PM in Holley Hall. Enjoy the festival.

Last week I listed a home that is the best of two worlds, you will love the bay and deeded beach access a few feet from the front door of this beautifully private estate. Soaring oak trees and elaborate foliage surround this gated 3BR plus office residence. The home at 6155 Manasota Key Road built by John McIntyre in 2007, boasts superior construction of the highest standards. It includes its own dock and lift. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
6155 Manasota Key Road $1,695,000 Video Photo Slideshow


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Construction update on three projects

by Roger Pettingell

Two projects start, one in limbo

Quay, Resort at Longboat Key Club and Colony construction updates

New Quay project in Sarasota
Quay Rendering - A total of 695 residences in Sarasota planned for this mixed-use property downtown

Ground has been broken recently for two major hotel and residence projects that will significantly raise mixed-use property in the area. A more than symbolic groundbreaking off Tamiami Trail in downtown Sarasota sets in motion a series of development for the old Quay property. A diversion of the road around our offices and the Chart House will make room for the planned expansion of the Resort at the Longboat Key Club. And yet there is a third still in limbo, the old Colony Beach & Tennis Resort residences on Longboat Key.

Last Wednesday developers GreenPointe Communities LLC of Jacksonville staged a ceremony with city planners and high school students on the mostly vacant grounds, just north of the new Vue residences, to set in motion construction of residences, offices, retail shops and hotel rooms on the old Quay grounds.

GreenPointe purchased the 15-acre land in 2014 and have put forth different designs to city planners. Each incorporated the waterfront as a focal point for visitors and owners. The city had approved 695 residences to be available for this project and GreenPointe has incorporated those units into their plans. The company last year announced plans to use 73 of those units for The Grande, an 18-story building that will connect to the next-door Ritz-Carlton through an elevated walking bridge. A restaurant and parking garage are also planned for The Grande.

At the center of the Quay project is the Broadway Apartments building renovation of 20 units that was opened in 1925. It was later named Belle Haven and was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984. That year the apartments were repurposed for use as office space. GreenPointe has made public comments that they plan to use the offices, then renovate and repurpose Belle Haven again for this project.

The groundbreaking on May 23 was a signal for construction crews to begin work on the horizontal ground structures that buildings are planned. A second groundbreaking is planned for that phase of the project. In all, eight blocks will be built around Belle Haven in different phases with a build-out date for The Grande at 2020. But first, GreenPointe made an agreement with the city to complete a roundabout traffic circle at the intersection of Fruitville Road and Tamiami Trail. The total project calls for the following:

  • 695 residences
  • 175 hotel rooms
  • Nearly 40,000 square feet of office space
  • Nearly 190,000 square feet of retail shops
  • Marina
  • Parking spaces
  • Roundabout at the intersection of Fruitville Road and Tamiami Trail

Plans for the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall are in debate. It is an entertainment venue with 1,736 seats that exists just north of the Quay on the bayfront. It is an icon for Sarasota but the big lavender building on the bayfront has its defenders in a debate with a side opposing its use in the current plans. Its color was picked out by the wife of Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous architect of the time. Entertainers from around the world perform at the Van Wezel. In the original bayfront plans, the building was to be demolished and replaced. Other options include complete demolition and use the land for different purposes. The Sarasota Bayfront Planning Organization has yet to issue its decision.

Longboat Key Club Resort begins its expansion

Resort at Longboat Key Club
Rerouting of Longboat Club Road has begun

In order to make space for the planned expansion of the Resort at Longboat Key Club, the Longboat Club Road required a reroute that is to run directly through the driving range at the Links on Longboat, formerly Islandside Golf Course. That work has begun following the planning and zoning board approval of the driving range and cart barn move to a more northern spot. It was a change originally approved by the board in December. A new Pro Shop is planned within the next two years that will be adjacent to the cart barn. The company has already brought in plants for the project and preparing them on one of the unused tennis courts.

All this is in preparation for the planned hotel that was approved by voters in a referendum in 2015. The referendum will allow the Longboat Key Club to convert 300 residences to tourism units to be used for the 259 unit hotel. Hotel plans also call for 10 to 12 more meeting rooms. A left-turn lane off Longboat Club Road will be constructed before the guard gate to help with traffic flow for hotel guests. Ocean Properties, the hotel management and development company of the Longboat Key Club, has not publicly announced a build-out date.

Developer faces off against owners at Colony Beach & Tennis Resort

Longboat Observer update
Colony Beach & Tennis Resort - Developers faced with obstacles to develop the abandoned property.

Unicorp National Developments and its chief Chuck Whittall are trying to develop the abandoned Colony Beach & Tennis Resort they purchased in 2014. The property has gone through voter rejection of an original plan of planned usage and final approval from the planning and zoning board this year of a change to a 166-room hotel with 78 luxury residences. A spa and ballroom are among the amenities planned for the resort. It will be operated by St. Regis, a management company of five-star hotels including the Starwood Hotels & Resorts brand.

But there are still owners of some of the condominiums and beach townhouses of the original Colony that are willing to fight in court to keep their property. They have rejected purchase offers from Unicorp. Even the existence of a Colony Beach & Tennis Association stalls the project, it must be disbanded first to continue. As it stands, the Colony continues to deteriorate causing a nuisance for Longboat Key.

I hope you are having a good Memorial Day and the rains haven’t dampened your plans. Last week I listed a Beachplace residence in building 10. It is a light and open layout with three spacious bedrooms, an eat-in kitchen with granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances, plus almost 2,000-square-feet of interior. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

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1065 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #105 $715,000   Photo Slideshow


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Memorial Day 2018 weekend events

by Roger Pettingell

Parades to concerts this weekend

One of a kind dedication to those who sacrificed lives in submarine service

On Eternal Patrol
On Eternal Patrol - An exclusive to Sarasota, 66 On Eternal Patrol honoring submariners who lost their lives patrolling the world's oceans will be dedicated and deployed this weekend in the Gulf of Mexico.

This weekend we honor those who fought and made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country. There are many ceremonies around Sarasota to remember those gallant men and women of the armed forces. You may be familiar with these ceremonies but there is a new one that stands out as the only one of its kind in the United States.

Out in the Gulf of Mexico and in Sarasota Bay there are areas dedicated to artificial reefs. Some of them are concrete blocks where the circle of life continues on a daily basis. There is rubble from old bridges hauled out to sea in support of these fish havens. Take your boat out 12.6 nautical miles in the 239 degree direction from the New Pass Buoy and you would find five Army Tanks in 65 feet of water. They were placed there in the Fallen Heroes reef, dedicated in 1985 as a memorial to those who fought for our country’s freedom as members of land forces. You would also see a landing craft and railroad box cars.

Round reef balls made of concrete are there. Holes allow aquatic creatures to pass through the exterior to the hollow center. This is a great location for anglers and few ever see the memorial that lies below the surface of the Gulf. These reef balls are manufactured in Sarasota by Reef Innovations. You can dedicate one to serve as a permanent legacy for a passed loved one. The memorial service can include scattering of ashes in a burial at sea ceremony.

The public is invited to Ken Thompson Park on City Island this Sunday to witness a one-of-a-kind ceremony when 66 of these reef balls will serve as a memorial to the sailors of each submarine lost at sea in combat or non-combat maneuvers. The program begins at 10 AM and each reef ball will receive full military honors. This On Eternal Patrol ceremony concludes with the playing of taps for the 99 servicemen of the USS Scorpion. Tuesday, May 22, 1968 will be the 50th anniversary date of its foundering. Sarasota Military Academy Prep School students will act as docents for the ceremony. One reef ball will honor those who died in non-sinking incidents.

Saturday you can tour the Reef Innovations manufacturing facility at 1126 Central Avenue but reservations are required for this free tour by calling (941) 330-0501. A deployment ceremony of a single eternal reef will take place in the Gulf on Monday. The remaining reef balls will be deployed at a later date. To help fund this $200,000 project the group is accepting donations through their Eternal Reefs website.

An Air Force flyover is expected at the 10 AM start of the All Gave Some, Some Gave All parade downtown at the intersection of Osprey Avenue and Main Street on Monday. The Sarasota Military Academy and the Blair High School band from Omaha, Nebraska will join other service organizations as they lead down Main Street to J.D. Hamel Park for the Memorial Day ceremony.

The Tribute to Heroes parade in Lakewood Ranch will begin at 7 PM Monday, travelling down Main Street to the party at the end featuring live music and concessions. The pre-parade party begins at 6 PM on Main Street.

Keynote speaker Brigadier General Richard Blunt will address the gathering at Veteran’s Monument Park by the Bradenton Riverwalk behind Manatee Memorial Hospital. The Manatee County Veterans' Council presents the ceremony that will also feature ceremonial wreath laying by local veteran service organizations beginning at 9 AM.

Also on Monday a Memorial Day Ceremony will be held in Patriot’s Park on U.S. 41 in Venice. The ceremony begins at 10 AM, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 8118. American Legion NO-VEL, Post 159 will host an open house following the ceremony. State representative Dr. Julio Gonzalez will be the featured speaker, with other speeches from Venice Vice Mayor Bob Daniels, Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines and U.S. Army Master Sgt. Gordon Sherven. Lawn chairs are encouraged.

1331 Quail Drive
New listing - 1331 Quail Drive

There are a couple concerts on Monday with Memorial Day themes. The Myakka River Blues Festival at Snook Haven in Venice starts at 11 AM. The Rusty Wright Band from Michigan is the headline band with two stages devoted to non-stop music until 6 PM. The Sarasota Concert Band will be featured in the Memorial Day Concert starting at 5 PM in Philippi Estate Park, 5500 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota.

Services will be held at local churches on Saturday, including Palma Sola Presbyterian Church in Bradenton and Sunday at St. James Methodist Church in Sarasota. The Sarasota Jungle Gardens is offering free admission this weekend with one paid admission. Participating restaurants and shops on St. Armands Circle are offering discount prices to veterans on Monday. Also, many government service offices and banks will be closed on Monday in celebration of Memorial Day. Have a safe and wonderful weekend.

Weekend, May 26-28, 2018 events

Event Location City Start
Honoring Armed Forces Jungle Gardens Sarasota 10 AM

Saturday, May 26, 2018 events

Event Location City Start
Memorial Day Show, concert Palma Sola Presbyterian Church Bradenton 4 PM
Eternal Patrol, facility tour Reef Innovations Sarasota Call

Sunday, May 27, 2018 events

Event Location City Start
Memorial Day, honors National Cemetery Sarasota 10 AM
On Eternal Patrol, dedication Ken Thompson Park City Island 10 AM
Memorial Day Show, concert St. James Methodist Church Sarasota 4 PM
A Tribute to Heroes, parade Main Street LWR 6 PM

Monday, May 28, 2018 events

Event Location City Start
Military Appreciation Day Shops and Restaurants St. Armands Call
Memorial Day ceremony Veterans' Monument Park Bradenton 9 AM
Memorial Day, parade Downtown Sarasota 10 AM
Memorial Day, ceremony Patriots Park Venice 10 AM
On Eternal Patrol, deployment Designated reef site Gulf TBD
Memorial Day, concert Philippi Estate Park Sarasota 5 PM

Last week I listed a sensational home in Oyster Bay at 1331 Quail Drive. Built in 2006, you will love the lush, Florida-sourced landscape and an open layout adorned with glass walls of sliders and windows, allowing for seamless indoor-to-outdoor entertaining. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
1331 Quail Drive $999,500   Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Community Spotlight - Oyster Bay

by Roger Pettingell

Close to attractions and Field Club

'West of the Trail' community of custom built single-family homes

Home for sale at 1235 N. Lake Shore Drive in Oyster Bay
1235 N. Lake Shore Drive - $2,495,000

Whenever you see a property for sale that is “West of the Trail”, meaning the Tamiami Trail, you are given the clue that this home is near the water. It’s a popular advertising statement whether the home is on the waterfront or is within a short distance. The community of Oyster Bay qualifies as “West of the Trail” and is a good location for a home.

But Oyster Bay has other amenities that make this community very attractive to home buyers and I outline some them in my REALTALK™ #150 video. Driving among the 168 custom built homes in Oyster Bay you have a feeling that this area is a wonderful place to raise a family. The large lots with unique homes grab your attention.

Anywhere between the Trail and Roberts Bay you are a short distance to the Field Club. This exclusive club is one of Sarasota’s oldest, named for Stanley and Sara Field who built a villa in 1925. Their wealth was amassed as heirs to the department store chain of Marshall Field, based in Chicago.

The home was purchased in 1957 to be used as a private club. Today members can reserve any one of nine tennis courts on the grounds. Lessons are available to individuals and groups of all ages by two of the area’s leading tennis professionals. Tournaments are held in the late winter and early spring. A wellness Center was added in 2015 with state of the art fitness equipment and group activity room.

The marina is open to Florida Council of Yacht Club and reciprocal yacht club members but must be reserved in advance through the dockmaster office. It is a full-service marina with electricity connections at the boat slips. Gasoline and diesel fuel is sold onsite. Fishing tournaments and poker runs are arranged on a regular basis by club members. A large pool with multiple swimming lanes is near the marina.

REALTALK #150 on the Field Club
The Field Club discussed in REALTALK™ #150.

There are five dining areas and one bar to choose from. The Grill Room offers a casual experience while the main Dining Room is the flagship experience. The Captain’s Room can be reserved for banquets or gatherings and the Commodore’s Room is for smaller groups. The Lagoon Terrace is a nice outside dining experience.

Oyster Bay is also known for its proximity to the Pine View School system, south in Osprey, a magnet school that attracts gifted children in grades two through 12. Any resident of Florida can apply to this school and demonstrate their need for an accelerated program. Living in Oyster Bay makes transportation to the school a little easier. U.S. News and World Report ranked Pine View as the number one in the state and number seven in the United States. In April a team from Pine View travelled to New York City and finished third in the National MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge.

If you are into golf, there are plenty of courses to choose from including the TPC Prestancia, a par 72 championship 18 hole course. TPC Prestancia has hosted a number of professional tournaments. Its social club is active and the 35,000 square foot club house offers the best in private meeting spaces and dining rooms.

The area has four fine nature parks. Phillippi Estate Park is on the southern edge of Oyster Bay across Phillippi Creek and includes such attractions as the historic Edson Keith Mansion, listed in the National Register of Historic Places. A little further south is Oscar Scherer State Park, home to the threatened Florida Scrub Jay. Pinecraft Park is in the heart of Sarasota with hiking trails on 22 acres of land. Sand and water lovers will greatly appreciate Siesta Beach on the Gulf of Mexico.

4557 Camino Real
4557 Camino Real - $1,095,000

There are some good selections to purchase homes in Oyster Bay, I have two active listings and one to be listed soon. Water views in the front and back of this four-bedroom plus family and bonus rooms home create an idyllic backdrop for tranquil family living at 1235 N. Lake Shore Drive. You will love the charming courtyard, wonderful updates and boating access.

The home at 4557 Camino Real is a charming four bedroom Oyster Bay home for sale in a central location near the Field Club, only minutes from downtown Sarasota and unforgettable beaches. Move right in to this beautifully updated courtyard pool home.

Ready to be listed is a beautifully landscaped two-bedroom home for sale at 1331 Quail Drive. This light and open estate has a large home office on the second level. I recently sold a four-bedroom home at 4509 Camino Real that was designed by the famed architect Guy Peterson, closing at $2,295,000. Click here for a complete list of homes for sale in Oyster Bay. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing of any homes for sale in Oyster Bay or if you have a property to sell or buy.


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


The Ringling Bridge - An icon for Florida

by Roger Pettingell

The third bridge is a visitor attraction

Designed as a transportation function but with beauty over Sarasota Bay

Ringling Bridge by Boat
View by Boat - The Ringling Causeway Bridge is majestic if viewed from the air, land or boat. The segmental box girder bridge has 11 spans for an official length of 3,097 feet. Its width accommodates two vehicle, bicycle and walking lanes in both directions.

Everyone has their favorite Sarasota icon to visit, whether it be Ca’ d’Zan at the Ringling Museum, the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Opera House or Marie Selby Gardens. Most have at the top of their list the Ringling Causeway Bridge that provides the main thoroughfare between Sarasota and the barrier islands of Bird Key, Lido Key with St. Armands Circle and Longboat Key. It’s been photographed from almost every angle with spectacular shots at sunset or night. It’s been walked across, biked across, run across and driven across. There is even a Segway tour over the bridge.

Now it spans 60 feet high over the Sarasota Bay and in a 2015 count transported an average of 35,000 vehicles per day. And in peak season that means more cars travel the two lanes in both directions. The two draw bridges to the north on Cortez Road and Manatee Avenue are aging but still handle high traffic volumes. The latest proposal is to replace the Cortez Road bridge with a similar style bridge as the Ringling, 65 feet in height.

Original bridge built in 1925
The original bridge was built in 1925 as transportation between mainland Sarasota and the increasing popularity of the John Ringling attractions in the keys. Sarasota County Historical Resources photo.

The Ringling Bridge actually had been a draw bridge at one time. It was the second bridge in the history of the iconic causeway that first started in 1925, constructed by its namesake John Ringling. As it has been passed down through local lore, John Ringling used his circus elephants to pull the raw materials to its proper locations to build the bridge. He used his own money for construction of the bridge that would provide transportation to support his dream of Lido Key and Longboat Key development. It was one lane in each direction with a wooden divider separating oncoming traffic. Fishermen would line the bridge which Ringling donated to the city in 1927.

The first bridge would last a mere 34 years. One lane of automobile traffic was insufficient and boat traffic was increasing, in 1951 it was decided to take on a new eight-year project of constructing a drawbridge with two lanes of traffic in each direction at a cost of $20 million. Near the end of its lifespan the bridge was opening at a rate of 18 times per day to boat traffic, stifling both modes of travel around Sarasota and the Gulf of Mexico islands. The original bridge was razed after its completion in 1959.

Recent aerial photo of the John Ringling Bridge
The bridge is photographed from many angles.

With increased boat traffic, combined with the increasing popularity of the keys, a new solution was in the works near the turn of the century. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put forth a generic design for a new bridge. Citizens of Sarasota took sides, one supporting the original plan against a start-up organization that wanted to make a statement with a new bridge of its own design. One side of this five-year debate was concerned with cost and changes to the skyline. In opposition, community leaders argued that Sarasota would become a world-class travel destination with a spectacular looking bridge. The compromise may have offended both sides. That divide has coalesced over the years into a unified feeling that this structure is a source of pride for Sarasota.

The Ringling Bridge replacement project took two years and was completed in 2003 with a $68 million price tag. Its design is a segmental box girder with 11 spans for an official length of 3,097 feet. The 106-foot width accommodates four lanes of car traffic, bike lanes in both directions with a separation wall on each side for walking or running. The Florida Department of Transportation owns and operates the Ringling Causeway Bridge.

At the base on the Sarasota side there is a free T.J. “Tony” Saprito Fishing Pier where anglers regularly haul in their saltwater game. To support the fishermen, Harts Landing is a small bait and snack shop that is accessible from the pier or by boat dock. Its origination dates back to 1934 when the original Ringling Bridge started at Golden Gate Point before heading west to Bird Key and beyond. Harts Landing was moved to its current location following completion of the second bridge. This establishment serving the fishing community opens every day of the year from 6:30 AM to 6 PM. A park under the bridge is often visited by sightseers and locals exercising their family pets. Benches line the seawall.

Foot races challenge runners
Races over the bridge challenge runners twice a year.

There are two annual events for experienced runners that challenge your ability to climb the height of the bridge. For the past 15 years in January the YMCA has coordinated a four-mile route that crosses the bridge and returns to Sarasota at the half-way mark in Bird Key Park. A one-mile fun run uses the bayfront of Sarasota as its course. Both races start and finish around the area of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. In March, First Watch of Sarasota has a festival for its race, beer garden and concert for runners at the finish. There are three options to race. The half marathon has its runners climb the Ringling Bridge, circle around St. Armands, then return to Sarasota where they head north along scenic Sarasota Bay roads before returning to the Centennial Park area. A two-person relay option covers the same USAFT-certified course of 13.1 miles. The first runner in the relay has the option of joining the anchor within one-tenth of a mile at the finish and cross together. Runners in the 10K race travel the same route over the bridge but end near Centennial Park without travelling the full distance into northern Sarasota.

The Observer put together this video, the history of the Ringling Bridge with interviews. The Ringling Bridge is an attraction for visitors and fortunate Sarasota homeowners alike. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Home Showcase XXIII - Longboat Key

by Roger Pettingell

Four unique residences on Longboat Key

Something for everyone looking for a part of paradise and easy lifestyle

This month we devote our Home Showcase series to Longboat Key and four residences for sale there. They are in the wonderful communities of 360 North Condominium, Grand Bay, Islander Club and Beaches of Longboat Key Club. All are splendid properties with their unique features, something for everyone looking for a good location on Longboat Key.

Completely renovated residence on the north shores of Longboat Key

260 North Shore Rd
260 North Shore Rd, #4

The first in the 360 North Condominium community at 260 North Shore Rd, #4 has been renovated from top to bottom. Beachfront living at its best, this charming neighborhood is located on Longboat Key's northern end, minutes from Bradenton Beach and Anna Maria Island. This rarely-available 3BR townhouse residence is located directly on Longboat Key’s pristine Gulf shores, offering stunning modern upgrades. Walk in and immediately fall in love with the picture-perfect beach views, 20’ cathedral ceilings, beautiful hardwood flooring, newer electric and plumbing, impact windows and sliders, eat-in kitchen and rooftop solarium, listing for $1,999,000. This is beachfront living at its best, on the far north end of the island in perfect seclusion.

Many amenities in the community of Grand Bay overlooking Sarasota Bay

3040 Grand Bay Blvd, #285
3040 Grand Bay Blvd, #285

Enjoy the ideal bayfront lifestyle at this charming Grand Bay #285 residence with beautiful views of Sarasota Bay and downtown that stretch on forever. This wonderful community offers its residents on-site management, 24-hour security and manned guard gate, dynamic clubhouse activities, library, social and game rooms, fitness center, four Har-Tru tennis courts, bayside heated swimming pools and spa. The south-facing, light and bright 2BR layout of this residence features 20x20 oversized tile flooring, a neutral décor ready for you to move right into and floor-to-ceiling walls of glass sliders that open to the impressive, extended wraparound terrace from every room listed at $929,000. Grand Bay is a socially-active neighborhood located behind the gates of Bay Isles, where residents enjoy access to private beach.

Islander Club residences, centrally located on Longboat Key

2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N
2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N

Simply waiting for you, this updated, direct Gulf-front residence at Islander Club offers Bamboo wood flooring, renovated kitchen, newer bathrooms and unmatched beach and sunset views. Endless vistas of the Gulf of Mexico greet you as soon as you enter this corner, seventh-floor residence. Floor-to-ceiling glass sliders open to the lanai from every room for optimal enjoyment. Islander Club is in a prime, central location on the island of Longboat Key. This lovely community offers residents upgraded amenities including a brand-new lobby, on-site management, clubhouse with library, game room and fitness center and heated swimming pool overlooking azure waters of the Gulf. Also, includes one deeded, covered parking space at 2301 Gulf of Mexico Dr, #71N, offered for sale, $849,000.

The Beaches, secure behind the gates of Longboat Key Club Islandside

775 Longboat Club Rd, #705
775 Longboat Club Rd, #705

Gorgeous beach-to-bay views welcome you at the Beaches of Longboat Key Club, 775 Longboat Club Rd, #705. This charming 2BR residence is situated in a private corner on the seventh floor. New floor-to-ceiling sliders open to the generous wraparound terrace, where you can enjoy stunning sunrises and crimson evening sunsets, with panoramic vistas that stretch on forever, all for an asking price of $849,000. Residents adore life at the Beaches. This direct Gulf-front community is conveniently located behind the exclusive gates of the renowned Longboat Key Club Islandside. First-rate amenities include on-site management, 24-hour concierge, updated lobby and hallways, newer clubhouse with catering kitchen and social rooms, fitness, tennis, heated swimming pool and spa, with a boardwalk down to enjoy pristine Gulf shores. Also offers plenty of covered parking for guests.

In addition to the residences on Longboat Key listed in this article, last week I placed on the market a three bedroom residence in The Savoy on Palm community in the heart of downtown Sarasota, within walking distance to the best that the city has to offer. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

Address List Price Media Slideshow
401 S. Palm Ave, #402 $2,300,000 Video Photo Slideshow


Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing


Urban legends and Florida myths

by Roger Pettingell

The quirks and laws that shape Florida

State laws for real estate and insurance, hurricane prep, animals and legends

Homestead exemption - 639 Mourning Dove
Real estate myths - Homestead exemptions, down payments and inspections debunked

Each state has its own set of myths and legends, so Florida has its own too. I have collected a set of urban legends, some have been confirmed or disputed by scientific research. What continuously occurs in nature can be studied, while infrequent phenomenon is left to the imagination and a legend is created. I have assembled a few of these laws, myths and legends that help make Florida a great state to live in.

Nearly 80 percent of home buyers on Longboat Key make an offer based on paying cash at closing. It simplifies the process even though they may seek a loan after the sale. If you seek a loan, is 20 percent required in all cases? That is the myth but by making a large down payment you decrease the monthly payments and some lending institutions require Private Mortgage Insurance if 20 percent is not put down. Experts do agree though that you should not exhaust your savings to reach that level. Either look for a less expensive home or deal with the consequences. You’ll need some savings for emergencies.

I have also heard that some home buyers are bypassing a home inspection hoping that the appraisal will be enough to uncover any defects of the home. A few things work against you with that mind set. First, the appraisal is not used for determining the condition of the house. With an inspection, consider a four-point or wind mitigation inspection to reduce your insurance premiums. You can also use the inspection report to negotiate repairs, even if the sale is "As Is."

Many people believe that a home has unlimited protection from seizure based on the Florida Homestead Exemption law. It is true that homes in Florida have greater protection under the law, but it is not absolute. Time in the state and the value of the home in bankruptcy have a bearing on protection, as well as any liens that may be put on the estate. Also, if the home is used for illegal activity the state has the right to seize and sell the home. There is a current case on Longboat Key where the homeowner has used his property in the commission of a crime. Although he is claiming homestead, the state is proceeding with the confiscation. Homestead begins the day of your acquisition, assuming your intention is to have the home as your primary residence. To get credit for taxes though, you must file for exemption through the county.

Here are some myths about Florida’s no-fault insurance law. The law states that all owners of cars registered in Florida are required to carry $10,000 in Personal Injury Protection. There are some complications to the administration of the law, but the basics are that PIP will cover up to $10,000 of your injuries or lost wages as the result of an accident. The insurance company may file proceedings to go after the other driver in order to recover that amount. If you are injured or your car damaged as the result of another driver’s negligence, the other driver through their insurance company is responsible, which is why liability insurance is essential.

white cars in the parking lot
You can have any color of car as long as it's white

In review of the cars on the road it appears that you can purchase a Lexus in any color of your choice as long as it is white. Florida owners of white cars are in abundance because white reflects the rays of the sun better. Although that may be the case, does it really translate into a more comfortable drive. The science, backed up by research is enough evidence that a black car is hotter than a white car after sitting in the sun. But, the studies also report that over time in the sun that both cars will have the same temperature inside. Either way, you still will hear news reports of someone who leaves their pet or child in a hot car with the windows up. The temperature can quickly rise to dangerous levels.

Here are some myths about hurricane preparation. Some think that bottled water will remain indefinitely without the formation of bacteria. Although this may be true of bottles filled in the production process, filling a used bottle with tap water should be consumed that day or within two weeks if refrigerated. Go ahead and fill your bath tub with water but don’t drink the water. The water can be used for personal hygiene but that won’t last long. In preparation of a hurricane you may see masking or duct tape on windows. This is not a good idea, glass that is not hurricane rated will break and the larger pieces actually create a greater hazard than if they just shatter. While some also open their windows in preparation of the storms, an open window will cause more home damage with water and wind. Also, candles and lanterns are not a good idea if your home uses gas for appliances. The consequences could be deadly.

Florida has a healthy population of black bears, estimated at more than 4,000 in mostly wetland forests. Despite what you may think as a good procedure in a bear encounter, there are some things you should know. Do not try to outrun a bear. They can travel as fast as 30 MPH. In comparison, Olympian Usain Bolt has recorded the quickest human speed in a sprint running at 27.8 MPH. Bears can climb trees too. Their curved claws make them very adept at climbing. When they stand on their hind legs it is not a sign of aggression, the bear is just trying to get a good view of the area. So the best thing to do in a wild bear encounter is to slowly back away and seek the shelter of a car or home.

Ghostly haunts and legends in Florida
Check out the Ghost Tour through downtown Bradenton

Ghostly haunts have their presence in Florida. Those entombed under the oldest bar in Florida haunt Captain Tony’s Saloon in Key West. It is believed that the ghost of Michaela Penalber is present in the Pensacola Lighthouse where she was murdered by her husband Jeremiah Ingraham in 1855. If you are in haunted Hammock Park in Port St. Lucie, look for the Devil’s Tree where it is said that two teenage girls were murdered and buried under the tree in 1971. You can continue the party for the devil by placing full beer cans near the brick chair Lucifer uses at night in the Cassadaga cemetery. Return the next morning and find the cans empty but the tops unopened.

The former funeral home of Karl Riddle in West Palm Beach is reportedly haunted by a young man who hung himself in the attic. Florida has its Bigfoot legend too. A foul smelling ape-like figure, seven feet high and 450 pounds has been recorded on video in the swamps of the Myakka River. Given the name Skunk Ape, there is a law to protect this beast, last recorded on video in 2013. Robert the Doll is a museum display at Fort East Martello Museum in Key West, believed to be possessed and would hold conversations with his original owner, Robert Otto. Dating back to the Civil War and the murder of newborn babies by a local midwife in Wauchula, the Bloody Bucket Bridge legend was started. The midwife would carry the bodies in a bucket and dump the remains in the waters under the bridge.

Explore paranormal activity in Bradenton, which has its ghost tours through downtown starting on the Riverwalk at the Pier 22 restaurant, Tuesday through Saturday. The guided tour of Main Street, Hampton Inn, Manatee County Court House and the old Manatee Players Theatre unfolds a history of hauntings in the city. Presented by the Paranormal Society of Bradenton, this organization also investigates unexplained activity by request. Full Moon Tours at Historic Spanish Point examines the strange stories in Sarasota and throughout the state. The Halloween Tour there takes you on a 5,000-year review of history and ghostly encounters. These tours require advance registration.

One of the best Florida legends is the Fountain of Youth, a legend that has been passed down from generation to generation. Although the legend is thousands of years old, it became prominent when the first governor of Puerto Rico, Juan Ponce de León, went looking for it in Florida. During his travel to Florida in 1513, he was told by local Native Americans that the fountain actually existed but that it was on the island of Bimini in the Caribbean. There is a plaque for the Fountain of Youth on a freshwater well near the road to the South Bimini Airport and the Healing Pool on North Bimini has some healing properties due to the flush of minerals in a mangrove swamp there. If there is a spring in Florida that restores your youth, it has not been found or is secretly guarded. With all its quirks, Florida is a great state in which to live. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 if you have a property to sell or buy.

Good news and announcements at Mote Marine

by Roger Pettingell

Many things to many ocean species

Since 1955 this organization has been at the forefront of marine research

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium
Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium - The Aquarium was added in 1980 for a public view of the research.

Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium has been in the news a lot lately. The base campus and aquarium on City Island is notably the most visible of their research facilities but there are four other facilities in Florida that research on the oceans is an ongoing effort. The Mote Aquaculture Research Park on Fruitville Road, Mote Boca Grande, Mote Eco-Discovery Center in Key West and the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research & Restoration in Summerland all have different perspectives on the Mote ocean research mission. These are the field stations that support research that is ongoing in all seven continents.

And now we are pondering what happens to City Island if Mote Marine moves its aquarium to a proposed site that is between the rowing lake of Nathan Benderson Park and the new Mall at University Town Center. For Mote it is in an ideal location for the view of 43 million travelers each year on Interstate 75. The announcement in February caused a stir in the community that Mote was abandoning Longboat Key. An article in the Longboat Observer newspaper on April 1 reported plans that the laboratory and aquarium would be replaced by a 400,000-square-foot modern shopping complex. Please note the publication date of the news article before writing any letters or emails.

In any event though Mote Marine is not abandoning their facility on City Island when the new aquarium opens, expected to be in 2021. Instead the new aquarium will expand again and add a sixth facility to its field centers. The new aquarium will be a highly visible tourist attraction for Sarasota while the research laboratories on City Island will be transformed into attracting more scientists that have been looking for space to conduct their lab research.

Most research as reported by Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Dr. Michael Crosby, Mote Marine President and CEO - "This study reflects our dedication to innovative and meaningful research," on the AZA report.

Since its beginning in 1955, Mote Marine has been a leader in marine research and is the oldest such facility in Florida. In 1980 the aquarium was added to give a public view of the scientific examination of oceans, from the smallest to largest creatures that live underwater. In March Mote Marine was recognized the second highest research production among the 228 non-profits in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). On April 2 the same organization awarded Mote Marine accreditation as a leader in providing animal care and a meaningful experience for visitors. Mote Marine applies for this distinguished award every five years before an audit and inspection. This is the fourth accreditation since its first in 2003.

Mote Marine has extensive data on manatees, sea turtles, sharks, dolphins, coral reefs, and more than most on just about anything else under the sea. Recently Mote Marine scientists published a new procedure for taking the temperature of manatees, oral thermometers are just too impractical for this procedure. Trained resident manatees Hugh and Buffett were involved in this study. Mote Marine maintains a statewide catalog of manatees and shares that information with two other organizations in Florida.

To celebrate and raise funds for protecting nesting turtles Mote Marine this month held its 32nd annual Run for the Turtles. Turtle nesting season runs from May 1 to October 31. Residents are asked to help in the protection of eggs through a series of requirements so the turtles have a safe journey to the nesting area and that the hatchlings can safely make their first entry into the Gulf of Mexico. Education flyers and kiosks provide information on ways to help and laws that are enforced during this period. In 2017 new rules were announced to increase the safety of nesting turtles. Turtle watch organizations supported by Mote Marine identify and mark the nesting areas during the season. They also report this information, the 2017 summaries are available online at the Mote Marine website and also reported in local news organizations.

One of the many exhibits at the aquarium open to the public
Educational Exhibits - High quality displays at Mote Marine provide a vast amount of information.

Mote Marine researcher Dr. David Vaughan, executive director of the Summerland coral field office reported this week in the Yale Climate Connections a new procedure for growing coral. His discoveries in the lab are now transferrable to the world’s oceans. Mote Marine has also developed other methods to speed the expansion of slow-growing brain, boulder and star corals through micro-fragmentation and fusion. Mote Marine has planted 20,000 of the faster growing staghorn corals into the reefs of the Florida keys. Last year Dr. Erinn Muller was the first to report the effects of low pH on the increase of a world epidemic of black band, a disease affecting 42 different species of coral.

Scientist Carl Luer is researching the intensifying evidence that sharks have the potential to save human lives by examining their metabolisms. For decades scientists have looked at the ability of sharks to heal their wounds. Over the years shark fin has been sold by Japanese herbalists to promote well-being but their finning process of catching sharks only for their fins has been criticized world-wide.

Over the years Mote Marine scientists have given testimony and reviewed pending legislation before congress. The Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act was reviewed by Dr. Bob Hueter, senior scientist at Mote Marine. Dr. John Reynolds was appointed to lead the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission from 1991 to 2010. He passed away on December 23, 2017. This commission was responsible for manatees, whales and polar bears. Dr. Kevan Main served as president of the World Aquaculture Society.

Sarasota Lionfish Derby
Sarasota Lionfish Derby - Volunteers weigh and measure this invasive species at the 2016 derby.

There are many programs offered at Mote Marine to educate the public on the world oceans. The problems of marine debris presentation will be held at 6 PM today. The Environmental Summit by the Science and Environment Council kicks off with a keynote address by Jack Davis, author and professor at the University of Florida. The keynote will be held at 5:30 PM on April 25 at Mote Marine while the summit runs April 25 to 27 at New College of Florida. World Oceans Day is celebrated June 2 with an all-day family festival. A three-day Sarasota Lionfish Derby that begins July 6 is one of education, collection and research on this invasive species of fish. A list of events for fundraising and education is available on the Mote Marine website.

Mote Marine receives its funding through donations and fund-raisers, with door and event gate receipts. It also receives a portion of its operational funding through grants. Memberships and venue rentals add to the revenue of this non-profit. Volunteers are needed to support the staff and help with educational programs. Valuable training is also given to volunteers. Contact the office to get involved with this valuable program that means so much to this community.

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Why Choose
Roger Pettingell?


  • Over 33 years as a top producing REALTOR® on Longboat Key and in Sarasota.


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About Roger Pettingell

Roger Pettingell of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate is your Longboat Key, Florida Luxury Real Estate Specialist. Roger provides his real estate expertise to sellers, investors, developers, and buyers in the Sarasota area including Anna Maria, Bird Key, Bradenton Beach, Casey Key, Cortez, Grand Bay, Holmes Beach, Longboat Key, Marina Bay, Osprey and Siesta Key. Search for homes, luxury homes, condominiums, investment property, development property, and vacant land and lots on the Longboat Key, Florida and the surrounding area.