Manatee The new normal looked very similar to the old normal on Saturday as traffic on Anna Maria Island was creeping at a snail’s pace, taking more than an hour to get to the island the first weekend of vacation since the reopening of beaches in the middle of the new coronavirus pandemic.
The sign for Bradenton Beach on Cortez Road said it all: “The public parking lot on the beach is full.”
For those who did not believe the sign, they encountered police cars blocking the full parking lots and no space was available along Cortez Beach on the way to Coquina Beach.
Dave Martinez was parked twice, dangers flashing as the scorching sun hit him. He had braved traffic and had no intention of giving up as he kept a watchful eye on a line of cars parked along Cortez Beach waiting for someone to leave. He was not the only one to have this strategy.
” What are you going to do? We’ve come this far, ”said Martinez. “I sent the family to the beach and I’m waiting for a parking space. “
The beaches were crowded, but much like when they reopened, large groups gathered, but moved away from the other groups.
The only time the beach patrol really had to speak to someone was for a baby gender reveal party. Even if about twenty people gathered for hugs, it was the confetti they dropped in the water that were the concern.
By the way, the happy young couple has a daughter.
A little further on, at the north end of Coquina, Toni Scherman was twinkling in the sun. Scherman is fairly new to Bradenton, living in the area for a few years after living in Minnesota.
A little traffic and big crowds is a reasonable price to pay when swapping white sand for white snow, said Scherman.
“This is the first time I have returned to the beach since they closed it,” she said. “It’s wonderful, but I didn’t think it would be so crowded. I came often because this is my happy place. “
Scherman said she believed Florida and Manatee County had handled the pandemic fairly well.
“I understand that I am too cautious at first,” she said. “I am happy to see things reopening at the rate they are because we still have to be careful. I am lucky that my work is considered essential and I am still working. For whom I feel really bad, these are all the people who have lost their jobs and those who may not have a job to return. I feel so sorry for them. “
Even more recent in the Bradenton area is Boston McGuire, who kept a watchful eye on his toddler son as he continued to try to rush to shore.
McGuire has only been in the area for two weeks after leaving Washington’s rainy and dreary winters in exchange for sun and blue water.
McGuire said Washington state restrictions were much more stringent, noting that she was isolated from her apartment for nine consecutive weeks.
“I had to do my shopping and make a doctor’s appointment over the phone,” she said. “I was getting depressed. I needed to be with my family so excited and I left. It’s so great to be in the sun with your family. It’s so beautiful here. Much prettier than Clearwater Beach. ”
McGuire said she thought all early precautions were necessary, but also believed that the Florida reopening plan “was a good thing.