On Friday June 19th, the Anna Maria City Pier opened up to the island of its home and showed off its shiny, new 678 feet of renovation! After over 100 years of hurricanes and various storms, the pier took its last hit from 2017’s Hurricane Irma. It brought enough damage to the pier to shut it down and put it through a renovation.
Built in 1911, the pier was for boat traffic to and from Tampa and St. Petersburg. Back then, people arrived by steamship to the pier which was 776 feet long and there was yet a bridge from the mainland. The first bridge didn’t come along until 1922. The pier has been remodeled and repaired several times over the years. 1988 saw Tropical Storm “Keith” do serious damage to the restaurant which was the popular “Fast Eddie’s” at the time.
Restaurants on the pier
The pier has housed several different local restaurants over the years. Currently, there is no restaurant open but there are positive talks going on between the city and The Ugly Grouper Restaurant. Formerly “The Island Tiki Bar & Grill”, the Grouper’s main digs are at 5704 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, if you want to check their menu out! There is a possible December opening being discussed. In the meantime, if you visit the city pier and get hungry you can go down the street to visit the restaurant at the “Rod & Reel Pier”!
Anna Maria City Commissioners, Carol Carter, Amy Tripp and Dan Murphy were greeting residents and visitors to the pier on Friday. They explained that the design of the pier is the “fingerprint” of the old pier. If the design were to be changed the pier could not keep its 678 feet length. Piers are not allowed to be built that long anymore. They could not restore it to the original building specs.
Personally, I am glad they kept the pier’s design similar to the original. Many people came out early to the 8 a.m. opening and they were keeping socially distant. A sign said “Face Masks are Optional”. Some people wore masks, but the majority being outside in the sunshine and fresh sea air, chose not to.
Fishing on the pier
People of all ages were fishing! Island kids on their bikes with their bait buckets and rods were setting up shop. Fathers and sons together with poles on this Father’s Day weekend. Some were fishing in boats pulling up to the pier. The view of Tampa Bay is still as amazing as ever! The Sunshine Skyway, view of St. Pete and Tropicana Field are all there! Egmont Key is just 4 miles by boat.
There is a new distance marker for throwing cast nets. There are new benches to sit and enjoy the scenery and take a rest. Picnic tables are undercover at the pier entrance. If you’ve spent time on the island or grown up here, you know a lot has changed on Anna Maria over the years. The pier is part of the history of the island and there are many memories for people! It’s nice to take a walk down the pier and revisit the past and also look to the future for new generations to experience!
Editor’s Note: Another great article by Vicky Sullivan – click here to read it!
Photos by Vicky Sullivan / The Suncoast Post.