Anna Maria – As you wander down the beach, watching the waves dance to a brief kiss on the sand, imagine the fierce spirit it took to develop this tropical paradise from then to now. It helps to eat a Fig Newton while you are pondering, because….
In 1891 a Philadelphia baker, Charles Roser invented and then patented the machine which inserted fig paste into a thick pastry dough. Kennedy Biscuit Company purchased the Roser recipe and started mass production in 1891. The product was named Newton after the small town of Newton, Massachusetts. When Kennedy merged with the New York Biscuit Company to form NABISCO, they trademarked Fig Newtons.
Around that same time, George Emerson Bean had homesteaded the northern 160 acres of Anna Maria Island in 1892.
With his financial windfall from the sale of his recipe and patent on the machine to make Fig Newtons, Charles and his wife moved to St. Petersburg, where he started a real estate development company. Charles had a sharp business mind and realized the opportunities that this little oasis provided. He partnered with Beans’ son, George Wilhelm Bean, after he inherited his fathers homestead in 1898 and the Anna Maria Beach Company was born.
They laid out the street maps, built sidewalks and a water system and began selling lots. At this time the only access to the island was by boat, so Roser built a 678 foot long pier to accommodate the ferries that would bring residents and day trippers to the Anna Maria Beach Company. Next he built the Roser Memorial Church in homage to his beloved mother. It was the first church on the island and has continued to grow and flourish over the 101 years it has been in existence! Roser also had a real estate business office built right at the end of Pine Avenue to catch the eye of everyone stepping off the pier to enjoy the island. It was a dream to own a piece of this paradise back then and it still is.
This Weekend on Anna Maria Island is a regular section highlighting the various happenings and events going on over the weekend. Check our events calendar for a list of future events.
• Dec. 13, from 5-8 p.m., Anna Maria businesses host a citywide holiday open house. Participating businesses will stay open extended hours to toast the season and children can visit with Santa Claus.
• Dec. 14-15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Anna Maria Island Art League presents Winterfest at city field, 5801 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach. The event provides an opportunity for art-enthusiasts to do some holiday shopping and for artists — from near and afar — to show off their work in a juried festival.
• Dec. 14, from 3-7 p.m., the Bridge Street Merchants hosts the annual Christmas on Bridge Street celebration, featuring visits with representatives from the North Pole, raffles, a children’s gift bazaar, carols and holiday specials in the stores and restaurants.
• Dec. 14, 6:30 p.m., Roser Memorial Community Church, 512 Pine Ave., Anna Maria, hosts the Bethlehem Walk, which does not feature Santa, but does feature a certain newborn.
Keep the reason for the season in mind and join us for the Roser Memorial Community Church Bethlehem Walk. This year the celebration is on December 14th beginning at 6:30pm at 512 Pine Ave, Anna Maria. Imagine dozens of islanders and visitors alike dressed in garb draw a crowd with their live llamas, sheep, goats and even a donkey!
The walk consists of a journey to Bethlehem (a block in Anna Maria) with Mary, Joseph, and the animals in search of shelter. Traveling from “inn” to “inn” participants will sing Christmas carols. At the end of the journey, baby Jesus is in the manger and participants will hear Scripture readings followed by hot chocolate and cookies in Fellowship Hall.
If you don’t have your own period-garb, costumes are available in the Fellowship Hall to borrow on a first-come, first-serve basis, or create even your own to make an even merrier night. We suggest you bring a flashlight for yourself. Don’t miss this annual reenactment and narration of the first Christmas, it’s a special way to release the stress of the “material” Christmas we so diligently prepare for.
For more information, you may call 941-778-0414 or visit www.roserchurch.com