From the Desk of the Sarasota
City Manager
December 5, 2014
The trees are up and ready to be lit!  Sarasota will have twice the fun with two Christmas tree lightings tonight -- Friday, Dec. 5th.  Downtown festivities, coordinated by the Downtown Sarasota Merchants Association, will take place at Selby Five Points Park 3 p.m. - 7 p.m., while the St. Armands Circle Association will host its traditional event 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.  Join the fun at one -- or both!  And, save some holiday cheer for the annual downtown holiday parade on Main Street on Saturday night.  (See Upcoming Events below for more details.)


  • Lift Station 87 - Project Team Meeting
    Mon., December 8 - 10 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Downtown Improvement District
    Tues., December 9 - 9 a.m.
    City Hall Annex - SRQ Media Studio
  • Planning Board
    Wed., December 10 - 6 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
  • Citizen Tax Oversight Committee
    Thurs., December 11 - 2 p.m.
    City Hall - Commission Chambers
City Career Opportunities
Opportunity, Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Copy Room Over The Dramatic Clouds and Sky.
Admin Specialist I
Grants Coordinator
Landscape Maintenance Tech I
Police Officer, 2nd Class
Rec Attendant
Sr. Case Manager   


This Week's Items to Know:
Busy Downtown:  Wallenda Skywalk & Holiday Parade      Expect a busy downtown tomorrow night (Sat., Dec. 6th) with our hometown hero aerialist Nik Wallenda helping to celebrate the renovations at the Sarasota Ford dealership with a high wire skywalk.  The walk is scheduled to take place over private property at the dealership at 5 p.m. and will part of an open house celebration from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Then, the community will ring in the holiday season with the annual
Santa making his way down Main Street during the 2012 Holiday Parade.   Photo Courtesy/Norm Schimmel 
downtown holiday parade.  The event starts at 7 p.m. at Main Street and U.S. 301 and will proceed along Main St. to Gulfstream Ave.  Many of us from City Hall will join the festivities, but we certainly will not overshadow the jolly 'ol man of the evening:  Santa Claus!

Please note that temporary road closures for the parade will begin at noon with the bulk taking effect at 5 p.m.  The parking garage at the Hollywood 20 will close at 6:30 p.m.  For more information about the parade road closures click here.   

Bobby Jones Golf Club - "Reindeer Games"      After a successful "Turkey Shoot" on the links, staff members at our historical municipal golf course, Bobby Jones Golf Club, are gearing up for another fun holiday event -- "Reindeer Games".  The 7th Annual Reindeer Games will be held Christmas Day with a shotgun start at 8:45 a.m.  18 holes with a cart is just $26.75, plus you'll receive a $3 discount on a buffet breakfast at Mattison's Grille on the Green.  Ho-ho-hope you can make it!  For more information click here.

Van Wezel - Season Update  We're in full holiday mode at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall!  Shows are selling well and our education program is working diligently to expose our youth to the performing arts and provide local talent for performances.

Occasionally, touring shows will request local students to perform during a show.  Last week, we had not one but three such requests for Kenny Rogers, Dave Koz and Friends, and Camelot.  Our Van Wezel Education manager, Kelli Maldonado, was busy rounding up qualified candidates!  Five students from Southside Elementary performed during the Kenny Rogers concert; the Sarasota Middle School honor choir, "Joyful Voices", provided vocals alongside singer Christopher Cross who helped kick off the Dave Koz and Friends tour; and a Booker Middle School student was selected for a featured role during the final scene in Camelot -- whew!  Just another reason why Sarasota is such a special place.
Southside Elementary students performing during the Kenny Rogers concert. 

To select the student for the role of Sir Tom of Warwick in Camelot, Kelli  from the Van Wezel education program set up an audition workshop in conjunction with the Booker Visual Performing Arts program.  To make the process as realistic as possible, the auditions were videotaped then sent to the Camelot casting director for consideration.

Ultimately, Michael McQueeney, 11, was chosen for the role.  He arrived the day of the performance and learned the blocking on stage while rehearsing his lines.  Having precious little time to rehearse, he did a great job presenting his 10-15 lines while remembering where he needed to kneel on stage in order to hit a significant lighting cue.  Bravo, Michael!  By the way, we're told the touring cast adored him.  And, to make the event that much more special, Michael even had his own dressing room. 

This community is rich with talented individuals -- no matter the age.  Congratulations to the Van Wezel staff for pulling together this talented pool of youngsters and giving them the opportunity to wow us on the the big stage. 
Actor Adam Gradau on stage with Michael McQueeney, 11, a Booker Middle School student, during a performance of Camelot. 
Neighborhood News - Dumpster Day Update     We accomplished what we set out to do with the recent Dumpster Day in North Sarasota.  Tons of unwanted items were collected and hauled away, including some that had been creating neighborhood eyesores like worn out sofas, rusted and broken grills, and rotted cabinets.  In some cases, residents didn't know how to dispose of the items.  So, they were stored in
Nearly 5 tons of bulk waste were collected. 
yards, creating an unwelcome sight. 

In total, nearly 5 tons of bulk waste were collected including dozens of tires and electronics which will be recycled by Waste Management.  Plus, 4 thousand pounds of hazardous materials (paint, pesticides, fertilizers and motor oil) were collected and properly disposed of by Sarasota County Environmental Services.

Dumpster Day is an effective way to clean up a community and hlep infuse and restore pride in a neighborhood.  Thank you to our Code Compliance Division, Newtown Redevelopment Office, Public Works Department, Waste Management and Sarasota County Environmental Services for once again coordinating a successful event to improve the community.  We'd also like to thank the community for participating. 

Already, we're receiving inquiries about when the next Dumpster Day will take place.  Right  now, staff is looking for a date in Spring 2015.  When it's solidified we'll let you know. 
Homeless Awareness    You may have seen local media reports this week about a middle school instructor from Orlando who has taken a year off from teaching to imbed himself in homeless communities. His name is Tom Rebman, 53, and he is chronicling his experiences on social media regarding what he encounters as far as availability of food for the homeless, shelter, social services, law enforcement, employment opportunities etc.  Recently, he spent time in Orlando and Daytona Beach.  And, this past Monday, he arrived in Sarasota.

After being on the streets for a couple of days, Tom met with Mayor Willie Shaw and Chief of Police Bernadette DiPino at City Hall.  Yesterday (Thursday), he met individually with three Commissioners, plus the SPD Homeless Outreach Team.  I also had a chance to talk with him.  He explained that he came to Sarasota because he read that Sarasota was a "mean city" with the homeless.  He was pleasantly surprised to experience otherwise:  the Sarasota community offers a multitude of social services while trying to figure out the best solutions for the chronically homeless with their various challenges.   Tom is frequently posting videos about his personal experiences living on the streets on his Facebook page:

I wanted to share two unedited videos from Wednesday, which highlight the compassion for the homeless in our community.  We know much more needs to be done, but anecdotally, this is high praise for our community and the Sarasota Police Department which continues to work diligently via our Homeless Outreach Team to assist the homeless.

Tom Rebman interviews a young woman at Selby Five Points Park about how she was welcomed to Sarasota.  Courtesy/Homeless and Hungry

Tom Rebman shares his experience about meeting Mayor Willie Shaw and why Sarasota is not a mean city with the homeless. 
Courtesy/Homeless and Hungry 

Upcoming Events
Party in the Park Tree Lighting 
Selby Five Points Park
Fri., December 5
3 p.m. - 7 p.m. 

Holiday Night of Lights    
St. Armands Circle 
Fri., December 5
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.

AIDS Walk   
Chaplain J.D. Hamel Park & Ringling Bridge
Sat., December 6
8 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Atomic Holiday Bazaar 
Municipal Auditorium & Bayfront Community Center
Sat. & Sun., December 6 & 7
Noon - 5 p.m.

Downtown Holiday Parade 
Main Street
Sat., December 6
7 p.m.
Road Closure Details

Jingle Paws Jubilee 
Payne Park & Auditorium
Sun., December 7
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Upcoming Shows at the Van Wezel

Colors of Christmas 
Wed., December 10 - 8 p.m.

Cincinnati Pops Orchestra 
Colors of Christmas will be presented
at the Van Wezel on Dec. 10. 
Thurs., December 11 - 8 p.m.

Bowzer's Rock & Roll Holiday Party 
Tues., December 16 - 8 p.m.

A Christmas Carol 
Sun., December 21 - 7 p.m.

Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker 
Sat., December 27 - 1 p.m. & 5 p.m.

Jungle Jack Hanna's Into The Wild Live! 
A Christmas Carol will be at the
Van Wezel on Dec. 21. 
Sun., December 28 - 7 p.m.

Shen Yun Performing Arts 
Mon., December 29 - 7:30 p.m.

Guys and Dolls 
Tues., December 30 - 8 p.m.

Vanessa Williams
Fri., January 2, 2015 - 8 p.m.

Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert 
Sat., January 3, 2015 - 8 p.m.

For more information visit
Thanks for reading this week's updates.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox click 'Join Our Mailing List' below or send us an email at

From sunny Sarasota,

Tom Barwin
City Manager

   Follow us on Twitter