It was an apple pie American Fourth of July: beautiful weather, swimming, barbecue and fireworks. We never ventured from the beaches, knowing better. Encampments of umbrellas and chairs were set up from early morning along Pass-a-Grille, including a big one at Butler House, the beach's oldest building, now apartments, a few doors north of us. Here, a giant tent and everything from water scooters to sailboards and skim boards accumulated. There was Frisbee throwing, volleyball, floating, snorkeling and bobbing. I don't think I ever did see anyone actually swimming as far as the eye could see.
Firecrackers started mid-afternoon, and the rest of the fireworks, private and public, started at dusk. As we sat on the beach with friends, we could see five different fireworks displays, including the closest on St. Pete Beach. It was neat.
What was not neat was wending my way along the beach the next morning, among spent rockets, cones from fountains, fizzled firecrackers, a bag of wet cherry bombs and general garbage. Way to go. Celebrate the birthday of your country big time and then trash it.
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More excitement in downtown St. Petersburg: First National Antiques and Lamps, a minimall, opens Aug. 1 at 556 Central Ave. Business co-owners are Margie Bagg and Barbara Goetschius, who are two of the former residents of the Huntington Village Antiques Mall, which just closed. The two have room for 25 dealers, and so far have Mike Slicker, who will have some of his books from Lighthouse Books there; Doug Strutz, 1800s furniture; Judy Weitekamp, collectors' books; Charlotte and Bob Scott, silver and porcelain; Helen Sweatt and her daughter Mary, small collectibles; and Bonnie and Sandy Otis, early furniture and collectibles.
Ms. Bagg sells furniture, specializing in armoires and vertigos, which are small armoires; and Ms. Goetschius is "the lamp lady," with antique lamps and parts.
The new mall originated as St. Petersburg Federal Savings and Loan in about 1941, later was Bache & Co. Investments. In 1975, the building gave birth to the Modern Media Institute, later to become Poynter Institute for Media Studies.
The antique mall drew its name from its financial history. The former vault is painted pink and will have a wallpaper border. Complementary coffee, tea and cookies will be served there. They plan a grand opening Aug. 18 and 19.
"We fell in love with the history and charm of the building," says Ms. Bagg, a St. Petersburg resident who had an antique mall in Dunedin called the Bee Hive. There her business was called Back Porch Antiques. This was before she decided the commute was too much and moved into the Huntington.
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Charles and Margery Kaniss will celebrate their 50th anniversary this weekend with a dinner at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club on Friday night and various other activities. But it's already being celebrated at the TradeWinds in St. Pete Beach, where 30 family members, including their five children and spouses, 11 grandchildren, and five nieces and nephews and spouses are staying. They've come from Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin, says daughter Katherine Hickman, who lives in St. Petersburg, as do her first cousins Robert Kaniss and Charles Kaniss, whose stage name is Mark Holly.
"Some of us haven't seen each other in years, and some of the grandchildren have never met," says Ms. Hickman.
Kaniss came to St. Petersburg in 1925 and brought Mrs. Kaniss here after they married in 1945.
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The St. Petersburg Museum of History will restage its preview of the "St. Petersburg Goes to War" exhibit, canceled because of heavy rains and lack of electricity several weeks ago, from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the museum, 335 Second Ave NE.
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A three-generational gathering welcomed a new rock band at Stovall's Landing on Monday night. Tom Stovall, Robb Hough, Cary Palmer, Charley Bailey and Buddie Emmons had the music rolling across Coffee Pot Bayou for their yet-unnamed group. The irrepressible Stovall was up early Tuesday morning leading a Fourth of July parade of costumed youngsters around a neighborhood park.