Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Snow, Ice, Freezing Temps Ravage Sarasota, Officials To Tout Area As "Winter Playground"

The Sarasota/Manatee Convention and Visitor Board has just announced plans to begin a multi-million dollar marketing campaign to advertise the sun and surf of the Suncoast as a hastily-reconfigured "Snowcoast," hoping to capitalize on the freak cold weather that has wreaked havoc upon the area.

With the local weathermen forecasting, in their words, "seemingly endless cold," the region's tourism gurus had to come up with a plan to differentiate us from the traditional winter playgrounds of the wealthy, such as Aspen, Vail, Lake Tahoe and the like.

While the Arctic-like conditions brought misery and heartache to local residents, the Sarasota Tourism Development Council scrambled to produce frothy "Visit Sarasota's Snowcoast--It's Not Your Grandma's Florida" brochures, featuring scenic photos taken by area residents.

The Sarasota Ritz-Carlton left a window open in one of their bathrooms to produce this picturesque scene:

The frigid weather brought it's share of tragedy to the Snowcoast, as well. North Port emergency personnel report that they were unable to rescue a man who had fallen through the ice-covered Warm Mineral Springs. Authorities say the corpse of the unidentified Eastern European tourist had to be transported in the bed of a city public works dump truck when his frozen limbs could not be stretched out and he would not fit into the back of the ambulance.

Visitors to the South Jetty on the north end of Venice Beach were shocked to discover the presence of scores of penquins, who repulsed fishermen and tourists foolhardy enough to venture onto the popular rocky point. Police cordoned off the area and advised everyone to go to the North Jetty, located in South Sarasota County, on the opposite side of the Intracoastal Waterway, where, strangely enough, there were no penquins. Mote Marine biologists could only assume that this was due to the fact that penguins are found only at the South Pole, but not the North Pole, and that some mysterious time-space latitudinal continuum ran between the two jetties, replicating the magnetic properties of the opposing polar regions. "But," said one scientist, "that's just a guess, since we don't usually deal with penguins."

Visitors were few on City Island Park, where spray from the raging surf of Sarasota Bay had blanketed the benches with ice.

Also affected was the city's controversial new mooring field in Sarasota Bay. Several expensive boats tied up at the city-owned facility were either heavily damaged or sunk. Beleaguered officials were quick to point out that they believe that the water crafts were damaged by the ice and not because the mooring points had failed, thereby relieving the city from any culpability for damages.

Meanwhile, area real estate tycoon, Michael Saunders, placed a full-page ad in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune announcing a "Beat the Spring Rush" sale on all properties listed for $750,000 or more and offering a free give-away of a kerosene space heater and a complimentary snow shovel with each new sale.

Several inches of new snow is forecast for the region tonight.

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