From the Desk of Sarasota
City Manager Tom Barwin
December 21, 2018

This was the festive scene at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens this week before the rainstorm blew into Sarasota.   "Lights in Bloom", a holiday tradition in its 15th year, is going on now through January 6th.  Over one million brilliant lights are illuminated in spectacular displays on the Selby grounds along Sarasota Bay.  For hours and ticket prices, please visit  Special thanks to our talented community photographer, Norm Schimmel, who captured this dazzling image.  

Reflections on 2018:  A Remarkable Year

As the sun sets on 2018, it is already clear it was a phenomenal year for Sarasota.
At the top of the wow list for 2018 was the public's overwhelming support to finance the extension of the Legacy Trail bike path from Venice and North Port to downtown Sarasota.   When completed, the expanded trail will soon become a major economic and quality of life improvement for the entire county.
As noteworthy was the creation and adoption of a new master plan for the Sarasota Bayfront. Phase 1 of the project will begin to transform the largest parking lot in the city, into a beautiful blue-green oasis with something special for everyone.
And finally, in the top 3 achievements for 2018 was the City, County, and Gulf Coast Community Foundations joint effort to prepare an Affordable Housing Action Plan to bring more permanent, affordable housing into reality.   
There were many other very positive achievements in our communities in 2018 but the three I've highlighted are noteworthy because they all required trust and cooperation across geographical, political and economic lines. As importantly, they will strengthen the fabric of our entire community.
We will have other complex challenges to deal with in the year ahead, like red tide and homelessness, but if we have re-learned one thing from 2018, it is when people of good will work together to tackle challenges, virtually any problem or opportunity can be addressed effectively.  
As we prepare for a new year, I'm confident that Sarasotans will continue to aspire for an even brighter future for all.   The achievements of 2018 provide a great lesson for 2019 and beyond.
On behalf of Mayor Liz Alpert, Vice Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch, and Commissioners Willie Charles Shaw, Shelli Freeland Eddie, and Hagen Brody, we thank everyone involved in making 2018 the bold and incredible year it has been. We wish all Sarasotans a wonderful holiday season and safe travels.
Catch the video version of 'Reflections on 2018' on SNN as part of the "City Report" series.  The segment will air tonight (12/21) at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. 
Please feel free to email me at  
Rendering of a portion of The Bay. 


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This Week's Items to Know:

Holidays - Hours & Trash Pickup    As the holidays grow closer, we'd like to remind everyone that hours of operation may vary at some City facilities.      
City administrative offices will be closed next Monday, Dec. 24 and Tuesday the 25th in observance of Christmas as well as Tuesday, Jan. 1 for New Year's Day.   
Trash, recycling and yard waste will not be collected on Christmas Day and New Year's Day.  Pickups will be deferred one day.  So, regular Tuesday pickup will be on Wednesday. 
Pickups on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve will be collected as usual.  
Hours of operation will vary by facility.  A complete list of holiday hours is available on the City's website.  
Bobby Jones Golf Club - 'Reindeer Games'    Bobby Jones Golf Club is a place of recreation 365 days of the year, and it will be open for play Christmas morning featuring the 11th Annual "Reindeer Games". 
The fun starts with a hot breakfast buffet served up at the Bobby Jones Grille from 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. for golfers participating in the Reindeer Games.  Greens fees for the Reindeer Games with 18 holes and a riding cart plus breakfast is just $35.   
For those interested in playing only nine holes, that will be available until 11 a.m. at the regular rate ($21.50 with cart on the American Course and $19.64 on the Gillespie Executive Course).   
The Golf Shop will close at 11 a.m. on Christmas Day so employees can spend the holiday with family and friends.    
Trash Collection - Live Christmas Trees    For those who enjoy a real, natural tree this time of year, when your holiday wraps up you may place it curbside for pickup on your regular yard waste collection day.
Please remember to remove the stand, ornaments and lights. 
Place live Christmas trees curbside for regular pickup.

Otherwise, it will require a special pick-up with an associated fee of at least $28.13.
Artificial trees are disposed of as bulk waste.  Contact Waste Pro to arrange a pickup:  941-355-9600.  Or consider whether your artificial tree can be donated and reused by one of our many worthwhile non-profit organizations in town. 
Recycling - Plastic Bags/Wrap    During this time of year, we see an increase in the amount of plastic bags and wrapping being used.  The Recycling Partnership, a national non-profit organization focused on improving recycling in communities through strong partnerships, is reminding us how to properly dispose of plastic bags/wrap.
Enjoy this 2-minute spoof on the popular holiday movie 'Love Actually'....and actually shouldn't toss plastic bags/wrap in your recycle bin.  Instead, return it to a retailer.
Recycle Actually 
" Recycle Actually" via The Recycling Partnership

Van Wezel:  Shows on Sale Now! 

To view the full Van Wezel season, visit 
Moscow Ballet:  Great Russian Nutcracker  
Fri., December 21 - 3 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer 
Sat., December 22 - 6:30 p.m.
On Your Feet! 
The Righteous Brothers will perform Jan. 15 at the
Van Wezel.
Wed., December 26 - 7:30 p.m.
Thurs., December 27 - 7:30 p.m.
Fri., December 28 - 7:30 p.m.
Sat., December 29 - 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 30 - 1 p.m. & 6:30 p.m. 

The Sweet Caroline Tour 
Mon., December 31 - 9 p.m.
Salute to Vienna New Year's Concert 
Wed., January 2 - 7 p.m.
Jay Leno 
Thurs., January 3 - 8 p.m.
Something Rotten!
Mon., January 7 - 7:30 p.m.
Tues., January 8 - 7:30 p.m.
3 Redneck Tenors 
Wed., January 9 - 8 p.m.
Blue Suede - The Premier Elvis Birthday Bash 
Thurs., January 10 - 8 p.m.
Air Supply 
Sun., January 13 - 7 p.m.
The Righteous Brothers 
Tues., January 15 - 8 p.m.

Linda Eder 
Thurs., January 17 - 8 p.m. 
Pilobolus Shadowland:  The New Adventure 
Tues., January 22 - 7:30 p.m.
Howie Mandel 
Wed., January 23 - 8 p.m.

The Midtown Men 
Fri., January 25 - 8 p.m.
  Howie Mandel will be at the Van Wezel Jan. 23.

Gladys Knight 
Sat., January 26 - 8 p.m.
Jerry Lee Lewis 
Sun., January 27 - 7 p.m.
Tony Orlando 
Mon., January 28 - 8 p.m.
Dick Fox's Golden Boys 
Tues., January 29 - 7:30 p.m.
Neil Berg's 110 Years of Broadway 
Wed., January 30 - 2 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
To purchase tickets over the phone call 941-953-3368 or stop by the Box Office at 777 N.Tamiami Trail.   
For a complete schedule of events, visit

Weekly Briefs will be on hiatus through the holidays.  Hope you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday season in our special city!  Happy Holidays -- see you in 2019!
Thanks for reading this week's edition.  If you'd like to receive Weekly Briefs directly to your inbox, click 'Join Our Mailing List ' below or send us an email at CityNews@SarasotaFL.Gov 

Tom Barwin
City Manager