Category Archives: Our Town

The 2011 DeSoto Grand Parade, Bradenton, Florida

So this year I made it a point to go to the DeSoto Grand Parade in Bradenton, Florida. We found a spot near downtown, so we were near the end of the route. What a spectacle! This was an awesome parade. The weather was breezy and cool, which really made the event more fun.

Held every year for almost 70 years, this parade is in the running to rival the Gasparilla Parade in Tampa. I took lots of photos but thought I’d direct you over to the Desoto Historical Society‘s site and to the Bradenton Herald’s website which has stories and pictures for the event. It’s hard to capture the atmosphere of the event without being there or without video but it’s a loud, exuberant, fun parade and crowd. Loud music, beads, and dancing folks abound on the floats and in the streets. They have cool giveaways like beach balls, beads, hats, and candy. The kids had a blast trying to catch all this fun stuff. There are old cars used in the parades that are pretty fun too.

They also have a children’s version of the parade which I didn’t attend. But I’ve heard that parade is perfect for little ones. The night parade went pretty late, but I thought it was pretty family friendly over all.

The DeSoto Historical Society has lots of fun events, like the Seafood Festival, throughout the year. One of the coolest parts is that they dress up like Conquistadors. In the past I’ve seen them at the annual Easter egg hunt at GT Bray with the Easter bunny. It was pretty cool to have the Easter Bunny arrive on their big boat and then kick off the egg hunt. It’s pretty unique.

If you like parades and a fun time, head on down to the DeSoto Grand Parade next year!

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Jiggs Landing in Bradenton, Florida

This weekend I discovered Jiggs Landing in Manatee County in Florida. It’s off of SR 70 near Linger Lodge. It’s a beautiful area dominated by facilities that are of interest to boaters, kayakers, fishing enthusiasts, and nature lovers. The breeze is fantastic. I couldn’t say enough how nice the breeze is there.

The facilities are all new and the manicured area was really nice for our children. They have a small playground and a few picnic tables which make for a nice picnic area. If you are looking for a place to launch your small watercraft, this looks like the place to go. The boardwalk around the water is perfect for little visitors. There are new cabins that they will soon rent out and there are shower and bathroom facilities ready for those visitors. There were boaters and fishermen and families all over. I even saw someone quilting under the covered area while her husband watched the water. It’s perfect for any small outing.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about our visit was the sighting of two small alligators! I’ve never seen such small ones in the wild.

Here is the county website for more information:

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Florida Mornings, a guest post by Camo Creek Photography

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As with many people who live here in Florida, I did not grow up here. When I thought of Florida, I thought of beautiful sunsets out at the beach. I could imagine bringing my camera and snapping picture after picture of the sunsets.

After I moved here in ’93 I discovered a part of Florida that no one talks about in their vacation stories: Rural Florida. In particular for me it is a town in Manatee County called Myakka City. This is where I discovered that there was more to this beautiful state than I could ever have imagined. Among the acres and acres of orange groves and farmland are endless sightings of cows, horses, chickens, wild hogs, deer and turkey: all the things I left back home in upstate NY and never imagined finding here in Florida.

After moving to Myakka City, I discovered that Florida mornings were more beautiful than the sunsets and beaches. Out here in the mornings it is usually a little foggy and as the sun starts to rise, its brilliant colors stream through the trees and reflect off the fog. If I am fortunate, our horses will be in the right spot so that I can capture them grazing in the ribbons of colored light burning off the fog. If it looks like it is going to be a dreary day, then the dew dripping off the flowers or the silhouette of the birds against the morning fog will capture my camera lens.

And as the Florida mornings offer the promise of a new day, I will be out there with my camera trying to capture the images.

—Lisa Yow

I am a self taught recreational photographer here in Myakka City, FL. Though I never know where my camera will lead me, I mostly photograph outdoor events and nature. My photos can be viewed on Facebook at Camo Creek Photography.


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A Great Time for the Family at Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota, Florida

This past weekend I took my family to Ken Thompson Park on City Island in Sarasota. The weather was gorgeous, with sunny skies and a gentle breeze. I knew that the park would be the perfect place for a picnic and an afternoon of play. We stopped for a picnic lunch right by the water and saw this beautiful scene before us.

While we ate, we saw children frolicking in the water while their parents fished or read or talked with family. It was easy to see that everyone was enjoying the nature surrounding them on this beautiful day. My son was excited to see  kayakers—some with their fishing gear and some just paddling through the brisk water. He excitedly told me that he wants to get his fishing license so he can wade fish and then get a kayak to fish from too! There are lots of small rocks near the shore, and he enjoyed tossing them in to see how the water moved around them.

We moved on to the two playgrounds that sit near the water. This equipment is in excellent shape and attracts both small and older children. Once you finish with the slides and rock-climbing wall, you can move on to the next playground that has monkey bars and swings. These are nicely situated by the restrooms, always a plus when you go somewhere with children. After some of the energy wore off, we went on to explore the neat boardwalk nature trail that follows the water.

This well-kept path usually has lots of fiddler crabs to keep you company, but we didn’t see any this visit. You meander amidst the mangroves until you come across the walkway that juts out into the water. We stopped there for a while and watched the boats and traffic on the bridge.

After this side-trip, you hop back into the mangroves and find your way to the sidewalks near the boat ramp. We kept on walking to the free water ski show put on by the Sarasota Ski-A-Rees. This is always a favorite Sunday adventure. My son thinks he might want to try waterskiing when he is bigger. It’s fun to watch them leap and jump and twist and make pyramids in their energetic show. We ended our trip to the island after the show, but one could always visit Mote Marine or the Save Our Seabirds sanctuary or grab a bite to eat at the Old Salty Dog. I highly recommend this day trip to any local resident or visitor. Don’t miss experiencing this beautiful site.

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A Guest Blog: Winter at Lido Beach in Sarasota, Florida


To take a trip to the beach is to experience the expanse of it all – the wide blue sky that meets the rolling water where you can see the curve of the horizon.

But really, without the sand beneath your feet, the salt in the air, the warmth of the sun against the chill of the February breeze, and the sound of the water…the photos are, well, a little flat in comparison. Beautifully blue though.

There is one other spectacle at the beach, in addition to the beautiful vista. Walking along the water’s edge there is a trail of artifacts deposited by the Gulf tides.


There are bits of white-on-white where shells have washed up, some delicate, some ragged.

Feathers, pen shells, cockles, sand dollars.

Shreds of seaweed half-buried in the sand by the tide.


And there are crazy birds standing face-on into the crisp wind or wading in the water (that was too cold for me to venture into, even just up to my toes).

Florida Snow

And this is for y’all up north where it’s still (actually) cold…here’s a glimpse of Florida’s version of snow. Powdery white sand, drifted up to form the hills of Florida.

Krystyna Sznurkowski, Pen and Paperie

I am an [intern] architect-by-day/ink-painter-and-card-maker-by-night. Being a native Floridian I have to admit, I take the proximity of the beach for granted sometimes. But the shore is a source of inspiration for me and so I do go wander along it as often as I can. You should too! I have a little online shop at and also sell my arts and cards at Wanderlust KW in Key West, Florida.

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Here’s a peek at downtown Sarasota, Florida

Our guest post by Bruce Hunt got me to thinking about towns. Our offices are in downtown Sarasota. I thought you might be interested to see what downtown Sarasota looks like. We’re probably a medium-sized city..smaller than Tampa and larger than Arcadia. I’d love to see what your city’s downtown looks like. Tweet them to us @pineapplepress using #mytown as a hashtag. I look forward to seeing them!

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