Commentary: Siesta has its own ‘March of the Penguins’

A veteran beachgoer observes the wide varieties of arrivals for the day on the public beach

Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo

It is 9 a.m. Sunday at Siesta Beach; I have just had my first swim of the day and I am ready to greet the masses.

I am sitting on my regular perch, a few feet to the right of the beach Mobi-Mat, close enough to hear and see our marchers.  Of course, they are not really penguins, but watching them amble along the mat — some groups weighed down by tons of beach gear and some actually appearing to waddle — reminds me of that spectacular and masterful movie in which mobs of penguins march in step. The penguins seemed to know exactly where they were going, just as the beachgoers do.

The beautiful penguins utilized their own language as they communicated with each other and separated into their own distinct groups. I watch the visitors coming down the mat  and listen to the widely diverse conversations that waft into the air, depending on their “layouts.” Parents of small children — lugging those wagons full of toys and food for what appears to be the duration of a week — are making sure the kids follow Mom and Dad right to the water’s edge. Couples stroll, some holding hands as they pull coolers and carry an umbrella; plenty of room for beer and snacks in the coolers. I recognize the locals because they always seem very sure about the exact spots they covet, and they seem to hasten toward those spots before someone else can lay claim to them.

The grandparents seem so happy to be with their families. They lovingly hold their grandchildren’s hands and tell them not to run away but to stay with their group until they reach the sand.

I like seeing solo travelers (like myself) walk along the mat with only a chair balanced on one shoulder and a beach bag on the other one. They have the beach walk down to a science.

I hear and recognize Spanish, French and “Boston,” though the latter speakers obviously have decided not to chat about Tom Brady that day.

The beach mat has been a godsend to the folks who need a beach wheelchair. I see a few people being tenderly pushed along by family members, and I see beautiful smiles on their faces when they finally look up and spot our magnificent beach.

People use the Mobi-Mat as they leave Siesta Public Beach on a late February evening. File photo

Oops, here comes a very happy herd of Millennials—maybe 10 in the group. They just trip along and laugh hysterically when they realize they have so much gear that they will have to park some of it on the mat and then retrieve it after settling on a spot. I am sensing a very long day at the beach for them.

Where are the Brazilian soccer players? I guess I will have to “amble” over to Copacabana Beach to see them. Oh, wait, here they come, down the mat and ready to start entertaining the crowd.

All things considered, I would not trade my favorite beach for anyone else’s. As the cliché goes, “Just another day …”