Siesta Seen

Light Up the Village plans well under way; new banners coming after the holidays; break-ins reported, mostly involving unlocked vehicles; and SDA annual fundraiser set for Nov. 12

Light Up the Village is set for Saturday, Nov. 28. Image courtesy SKVA
Light Up the Village is set for Saturday, Nov. 28. Image courtesy SKVA

With 16 groups signed up already for the Siesta Key Village Association’s Light Up the Village parade on Nov. 28, plans are well under way for the annual holiday season kickoff, members of the organization said during their regular meeting on Nov. 3.

Among those parade participants will be four fire trucks, Siesta Key Village Association (SKVA) Vice President Mark Smith reported. “And if there’s a fire along the way, there shouldn’t be a problem,” he added, drawing laughter from the approximately 14 people present. “This has got to be some type of record for fire trucks in the parade.”

“We takes whats we gets,” SKVA Treasurer Roz Hyman responded with another laugh.

Helene Hyland, the organization’s secretary, distributed flyers with information about sponsorships, noting that the planning committee members have “been meeting on a very, very regular basis, and everything is in good shape.”

Among the ways in which business owners can help, she pointed out, are keeping their decorated shops open during the event, which will run from 6 to 9 p.m. on the Saturday after Thanksgiving; volunteering to assist with the necessary physical preparations; and providing financial assistance.

As for the parade, Hyland noted, “This is not Macy’s [Thanksgiving Day Parade]; we understand that. But it takes as much work as Macy’s does.”

(From left) Helene Hyland, Russell Matthes, Wendall Jacobsen and Roz Hyman participate in the Nov. 3 Siesta Key Village Association meeting. Rachel Hackney photo
(From left) Helene Hyland, Russell Matthes, Wendall Jacobsen and Roz Hyman participate in the Nov. 3 Siesta Key Village Association meeting. Rachel Hackney photo

“We have probably well over 100 people [scheduled to be] walking in the parade,” Smith added. “We may need the fire trucks to push ’em along.”

“Or to hose them down to cool them off,” Siesta Key Association Michael Shay responded.

Along with the parade, Light Up the Village will feature a visit by Santa Claus, who will greet the children attending the event and give each of them a gift bag donated by the Beach Bazaar, the SKVA website explains. Another highlight will be the lighting of a tall Christmas tree in the Village gazebo at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Canal Road.

Free trolley transportation will be provided from Siesta Public Beach to the Village between 4:30 and 9:30 p.m. to alleviate parking problems for visitors, the website also points out.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor may download a form, the SKVA website says. Sponsors will be recognized in all Light Up the Village signage and advertising, Hyland noted.

Entry forms for the parade are required; they may be found on For more information, email

Anyone with questions may call Hyland at 685-2274 or email her at

New banners

A graphic shows the design of the new Siesta Village banners. Image courtesy Kay Kouvatsos
A graphic shows the design of the new banners. Image courtesy Kay Kouvatsos

In other business on Nov. 3, Kay Kouvatsos of Village Café displayed samples of a new design for the Village banners. Although the wording was “Welcome to Siesta Key Village,” Kouvatsos noted her preference for changing that to “Siesta Key Village Welcomes You.”

“Kay and I have decided ‘Siesta Key Village Welcomes You’” is better, Treasurer Hyman added.

“I just think it’s more personal,” Kouvatsos said of the alternative.

Hyland agreed.

With a general consensus of concurrence, Kouvatsos planned to proceed with “Siesta Key Village Welcomes You” as the language on the banners.

Russell Matthes, co-owner of the Daiquiri Deck restaurants, pointed out that the holiday banners are scheduled to go up on Nov. 23. When those are taken down, he said, the new Village banners will be installed on the Village light poles along Ocean Boulevard.

Crime statistics

Sgt. Jason Mruczek of the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office told the SKVA members this week that the only recent crime trend he has identified on the island involves vehicle break-ins, mostly late at night and primarily east of the Village.

In almost every case reported, he added, the vehicle was unlocked.

The largest number of the incidents were around Island Circle and along Calle Florida, he added.

A map shows the area of Island Circle on Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps
A map shows the area of Island Circle on Siesta Key. Image from Google Maps

In a follow-up email to The Sarasota News Leader, Mruczek noted that 11 reports of vehicle break-ins had been made since Oct. 1. “We are also utilizing nighttime bike patrols to assist with investigating these,” he wrote in the email.

“There are a few people of interest that we have in mind,” he told the SKVA members, so investigators are pursuing those leads.

New Chamber executive

Ann Frescura. Image courtesy Siesta Chamber
Ann Frescura. Image courtesy Siesta Chamber

During the SKVA meeting, Vice President Smith announced the Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce has hired a new executive director, Ann Frescura, who will start work on Jan. 1, 2016.

A Nov. 3 e-blast to Chamber members says Frescura has eight years of experience promoting business and tourism for the Springfield, Ill., historic central business district.

“Her background is events,” Smith said during the SKVA meeting. “She has a very limited … chamber [of commerce] background, if any.”

In her current job with a downtown Springfield group, he continued, she has helped put on more than 400 events. Because of the nature of the Siesta Chamber, which operates more like a visitors center, Smith added, her hiring “is going to be a real positive.”

Maintenance update

SKA President Shay — who also “wears the hat” of Siesta Key Village Maintenance Corp. manager for the SKVA — reported during the meeting that as a result of the new county fiscal year starting on Oct. 1, money had become available for several projects. For example, he continued, two new Village garbage cans were installed; the older ones they replaced were moved to areas where cans had gone missing.

The biggest issue, he noted, had involved the lids of the garbage pails. “Apparently, we had kids that were using [the lids] as Frisbees,” he told the SKVA members.

However, it is possible to anchor the lids to the cans, he pointed out, so county staff had made certain that was taken care of last month.

Additionally, Shay said, new flags were raised at the Village gazebo. “We’re getting some things done,” he summed up the recent activities.

Lisa L. Cece, business professional in the Sarasota County Transportation Department, told the members the county hired a new firm to handle irrigation for the Village landscaping. Her hopes are high, she added, that good service will flow as a result of that.

Cece also told the SKVA members that county crews have repaired the curbing at the intersection of Ocean Boulevard and Calle Miramar, eliminating what she called a “trip hazard.” Further, she said, a crew had poured new concrete at the site of the stormwater drain at the intersection of Beach Road and Ocean Boulevard. In response to a question from Shay, she replied that the crew did not clean out the storm drain itself.

“It was actually full of bottles, cans, plastic bags,” Shay told her. “That’s got to be cleaned out.”

For the animals

Image courtesy SDA
Image courtesy SDA

The Daiquiri Deck on St. Armands Circle will host the 15th annual fundraiser for Sarasota in Defense of Animals on Thursday, Nov. 12, from 6:30 to 10 p.m., Matthes announced during the SKVA meeting. The theme will be Island Time on St. Armands.

The event will feature appetizers, dinner, an open bar, prizes and a live auction. In the past, he noted, it has raised between $50,000 and $75,000 to support the nonprofit organization in Sarasota County whose mission includes exposing animal abuse and exploitation and providing lifetime care for about 300 animals.

Tickets are $100 each. For tickets, visit For information about table sponsorships, call Matthes at 915-0302

The Daiquiri Deck is located at 325 John Ringling Blvd. on St. Armands Circle.