Greetings from the Gulf: April

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Bring on the clowns, your golf-cart frowns, your naughty out-of-towns

By John Morton

Clown suits, complete with the big floppy shoes, foam red nose, and honkety-honk horn.
That’s what I’d be giving our lawmakers in Tallahassee.

A political dig, you ask?
No, I’m just tossing in my suggestion to Save Siesta Key on what to give the House and Senate members who will be voting this month on its incorporation bill. It’s custom to present something that represents the area and here, as we know, the circus is the big berserkus.
Just ask Diane Cuna. Her remarkable big-top upbringing is showcased on page 8 of this month’s issue.
What, my idea is no good? Well then, my corsage does squirt-ith thee in thy face.
OK, how about some of our unmatched quartz-based sand? But what to put it in? How about an hourglass. It can show how time will slowly go by, grain by grain, for 18 months until possibly we get to vote on our island’s fate. I still can’t believe that was shoved down the community’s throat by delegation newcomer Mike Grant.
Maybe a Roll Tide T-shirt? No, we’re not in Bama but things here in the Gulf are often crimson, as in red, as in increasingly Bear Bryant unbearable. Can our water quality issues finally get addressed at the capitol? Someone?
Credit to Save Siesta Key, however, for taking the high road, via the highball of sorts. A recent tour of Siesta Key Rum’s distillery got some of its members drinking and thinking, and next thing you know Troy Roberts was bottling up a brilliant idea. Yes, all the representatives of the House and Senate received some yummy rummy.
“We donated 160 375-milliliter bottles of our toasted coconut rum to help the Save Siesta Key effort. I thought it was the perfect item to give the legislators a ‘taste’ of Siesta Key that would stick favorably in their minds,” Roberts, the company’s founder, said.
“I did it because I would love to see the residents of Siesta Key control the future of the Key. I moved here the first time in 1979. There have been a lot of changes and I would like to preserve what we can of the character of the Key.”
I wonder if instructions were included: “Drink all of me moments before voting.”

The recent proliferation here of “free rides” (French for “please tip”) is something to behold. We are blessed with a great public trolley and additional well-established free shuttles in the form of the Gator Ride, the Frog Hop, and Johnny’s Free Ride.
Then there are the dizzying number of start-up golf cart free-ride operations: Limo Kart, Thumbs-Up, Two Tides, Siesta Key Free Rides, Shark Shuttle (complete with driver in shark suit), and Horn Bros. — who somehow, someway managed to not have “honk if you’re horny” on the side of their cart.
Then there’s the next tier down — the unmarked, no-name cart creeps. One of them often hangs out by the line for the trolley outside Morton’s Market, recruiting riders with lines like “Don’t get on that COVID caravan!”
A few weeks back, I saw what I believe was one of these rogue cart operators run out of juice right in the middle of Midnight Pass Road. After bidding his two backseat passengers an embarrassing fond farewell, he began to push — eventually receiving the assistance sympathy of some passers-by.
I took a picture and enjoyed a chuckle.

Folks, the real deals out there on the free-ride road are the ones that deserve our patronage. They are licensed, have permits, and are insured.
Best of all, they are fun! I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been subjected to “Sweet Caroline” and the whole nauseating “bop-bop-bop!” and “so good, so good, so good!” routine on the Breeze trolley. One day, as I departed, I announced in deadpan how I would not return until “you play a song I’ve heard before, dag nab it.” This got a good laugh.
Well, a couple days later, upon boarding, the same driver recognized me and next thing I knew the whole trolley was singing and forming the letters to “YMCA” as the conductor looked at me and smirked. It was at this point I realized I was one smarty-pants comment away from “Macarena” mayhem.
As a side note, many people have contacted our paper to moan about the trolley app, and how it doesn’t work well — or if at all. It rarely shows you with any degree of accuracy where the trolley is located.
I’ve learned that the operators were not required to have such a device, but had one created a couple years ago of their own volition. The current operators have a contract with the county that expires at the end of August.
The county, which owns the trolley service, reports that future operators will be required to have an app that offers tracking as part of any contract requirements.

At a recent Siesta Key Association meeting, Sgt. Dan Smith, who runs our Sheriff’s Office substation at the public beach, reflected on the challenges of policing spring break, He once again noted that regional high school kids cause the most trouble, and college kids are rarely a headache.
However, last year, the co-eds that descended upon us from two northern cities were the exception: Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Buffalo, New York.
Smith says they were out of control.
Well, you by now know how Greetings from the Gulf rolls. So, it’s off to Fort Wayne we go this September for its largest event — the annual Johnny Appleseed Festival. I’m not making this up.
Anyway, a fruit fight it is. I’m a rotten apple. I’m one bad seed.
How to get even with Buffalo? I’m thinking we just show them pix of our Lombardis and our Lord Stanleys. Correct: Buffalo has never won an NFL or NHL title.
Oh, and Buffalo people live in Buffalo. Good luck with a comeback on that.
And then there’s O.J.
In case you are curious, who is the most famous person from Fort Wayne? If you knew it was Shelley Long, cheers to you. And if you can name one successful movie she made after leaving Cheers, you must be Shelley Long herself. Hi Shell!
The most famous person from Buffalo?
It’s Rick James. OK, that’s not bad.
But it doesn’t give you permission to get all super freaky on our beach. We leave that to the clowns that matter.

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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