By LORRAINE THOMPSON
BEACH TOLL BOOTHS TO RETURN MARCH 1
With warmer weather in sight, and after what some consider a brutally cold winter, residents and visitors, including spring breakers, are expected to return to St. Johns County beaches in large numbers.
Starting March 1 toll booths will be back in business at the county ocean beach ramps. Motorists should have a 2015 annual pass displayed or be prepared to pay.
Â Â Â Â Â The 2015 vehicle beach access passes are discounted through March 1 at $30 for a St. Johns County resident pass, $40 for a non-resident pass, and $20 for a handicap pass. Effective March 2, the rates go to $40 for county residents, $60 for non-residents and $30 for handicapped.
Reduced rate passes may be purchased during normal business hours at the following locations through March 1:
* Tax Collectorâ€™s Main Office, 4030 St. Lewis Speedway
* Tax Collectorâ€™s Dupont Center, 6658 US1 South
* Tax Collectorâ€™s Julington Creek Office, 725 Flora Branch Blvd
* Tax Collectorâ€™s Ponte Vedra Office, 5430 Palm Valley Road
* Tax Collectorâ€™s Hastings Office, 6195 S. Main Street
* St. Johns County Beach Services Office, 901 Pope Road
* Pier Gift Shop, 350 A1A Blvd.
Starting March 2 the passes will only be available for purchase at the beach toll booth vehicle access ramps which are located at
- Vilano Access Ramp (Vilano)
- Porpoise Point (Vilano)
- A Street (City of St. Augustine Beach)
- Ocean Trace (City of St. Augustine Beach)
- Dondanville (City of St. Augustine Beach)
- Matanzas Avenue (St. Augustine Beach)
- Mary Street (St. Augustine Beach)
- Crescent Beach
- Fort Matanzas Ramp (Fort Matanzas National Monument)
Daily fees during daytime hours for those who do not purchase the passes are: $6 for county resident, $8 for non-resident, $5 for handicapped, active military (with ID) is $5.Â A twilight pass (sold after 3 p.m.) is $5. Three day passes are available: $15 for county residents, $20 for non-residents, and $12 for handicapped.
For more information about St. Johns County beach access passes, call Beach Services at (904) 209-0331.
BEACH BRAGING RIGHTS
St. Augustine Beach has been named in top ten of best beaches in the United States by TripAdvisor which ranked St. Augustine Beach 9th in its list of Traveler’s Choice Top 25 Best Beaches in the United States. TripAdvisor’s Best Beaches rankings are based on the quantity and quality of traveler reviews for beaches gathered over 12 months. Florida beaches took six of the top 10 U.S. ranking spots with Hawaii taking only three. California took one. In 2014, Hawaii took seven of the top 10 spots with only two Florida beaches. St. Augustine Beach was praised by visitors for its wide sandy and clean beaches, its ever-changing sunrises and sunsets and its family friendliness. To read the review, visit http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Beaches
Â Bikersâ€”tAKE NOTE!
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Take the ride for the wild side poker run in Florida state parks on Sunday, March 8. Parks include Anastasia, Fort Mose Historic, Washington Oaks Gardens, Bulow Creek, Tomoka, North Peninsula, and De Leon Springs State Parks. Bikers can register for the charity ride online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/a-ride-for-the-wild-side-tickets-15222776735 or at any of the parks during the registration window from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on March 8. There will be no set route. Bikers can go to all the parks or a minimum of 5 as long as they end up at Anastasia State Park by 3 p.m. to turn in their tally sheets. The registration fee is $20 and includes one poker hand, one tally sheet, park entrance, food, and chance drawing ticket. Additional poker hands will be available for $10 each. Funds raised at this event will be split evenly between each of the parks in support of current projects. Anastasia will be the final stop and host of the party from 1 to 5 p.m. with food provided by the concessionaire (Island Beach Grill), live music performed by Second Chance, alcoholic beverages for purchase, chance drawing, and games. First, second, and third place prizes will be given out as well as a “worst hand” prize.
The rain or shine (no refunds) event is limited to 500 bikes. The total mileage for all 7 parks is 152. Estimated travel time is 3.5 hours. Only 5 parks are needed to get a full hand.
LIBRARY BOOK SALE
Friends of Anastasia Island Branch Library will hold a spring book sale March 5 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; March 6 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and March 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Approximately 10,000 books/items will be available. On Saturday only, prices will be reduced by 50 percent and youÂ can fill a grocery sack with dollar books for $5 (doesn’t include specially priced items). The library is located at 124 Sea Grove Main Street in the Sea Grove Town Center. Call 209-3730 for information.