Susan Burns (Lori Sax)For decades, I’ve been a regular on North Lido Beach, which I love for its long, beautiful stretch of sand and trees that goes all the way to New Pass. But I’ve noticed a change over the years. Driving through St. Armands to the beach is no longer easy or fast. Now I stop for pedestrians laden with shopping bags at every crosswalk and mutter under my breath as I crawl along, hoping that I’ll find a parking space near the beach before the sun sets.

As you’ll read in our feature, “Are We Still Seasonal?” on page 22, there’s a reason our roads and restaurants have been more congested. The traditional high season and low season don’t really exist anymore, according to tourism numbers and experts. Instead, we have one continuous season stretching from January through August, then a brief slowdown in September and October before our visitors begin to come back.

That’s good news for our economy and will affect how many of us do business in Sarasota and Manatee. I’ve also decided to slow down and become a tourist myself on many of those weekend evenings when I head to the beach. After sunset, my husband and I walk to Columbia Restaurant or The Shore Diner and enjoy the crowds. After dinner, we’ll stroll along the circle, maybe with a shopping bag or two, making cars stop as we cross the street.

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