This is the 10th anniversary issue of our On The Beach Visitor’s Annual. It’s our most widely circulated publication, reaching all of our regular subscribers (who live not only in Sarasota but in every state of the nation and many foreign countries) and visitors all year-round at more than 70 area resorts and hotels. We’ve won a number of awards for On the Beach, including a first, second and third-place trophy from the Florida Magazine Association for “Best Visitor Publication” for the last three years.
We’re proud of that, of course, but what we editors really love about this magazine is the chance it gives us every year to rediscover Sarasota, sending us out all over town and up and down the keys searching out new discoveries and experiences. You can read about some of our favorite new finds in “Insider,” from Lilly Pulitzer’s first-ever line of furniture (hot-pink jewelry chest, anyone?) to trapeze lessons for kids and adults from a circus great.
We also lead a tour of postcard-picturesque Cortez, the Gulf Coast’s last working fishing village; peek into what our real estate editor, Carol Tisch, pronounces “the perfect beach cottage”; and even provide “The Social Climber’s Guide to Sarasota’s Best Neighborhoods,” a cartoon map infused with all sorts of attitude from its co-creators, our irrepressible gossip columnist, Mr. Chatterbox, and illustrator Regan Dunnick.
But the centerpiece story of our issue grew out of something more serious. For much of the spring and summer, the specter of that monstrous oil spill haunted our city, creating a toxic brew of fear, anger and anguish as we watched those horrific images and prayed for progress on capping the well. In a strange way, the threat intensified our appreciation of Sarasota’s beauty.
Walking the beach at sunset one July evening, I looked out at that clear, calm water, shimmering with pink and purple reflections from the sky above, and remembered a line from Sunday Morning, a poem by Wallace Stevens: “Death is the mother of beauty.” It’s our mortality that gives every moment of life its precious intensity; and it was the knowledge that it might soon be ruined that made the Gulf unbearably beautiful to me that night.
In a story beginning on page 58, we celebrate the history and riches of this remarkable body of water. We called on two formidable Florida talents—writer Peter B. Gallagher and photographer Carlton Ward. Both native Floridians, they share a fierce love for this state and its fragile beauty.
Gallagher, who began his career writing a “Vanishing Florida” column for the St. Petersburg Times and has collected more awards than we can remember for stories about the state he’s written for us, this year won the prestigious “Fellow Man and Mother Earth” award from the Stetson Kennedy Foundation for environmental and civil rights reporting. His “My Gulf of Mexico” captures the natural splendor and colorful history of the Gulf, and is a rollicking good tale as well. And Ward, who has published several books of his photography and is a regular contributor to such magazines as Smithsonian and Audubon, came up with heart-stopping images of the water and the creatures and people who depend upon it. Together, they remind us of how much is at risk, and why it’s our privilege as well as our responsibility to protect the Gulf of Mexico.