Anyone who has spent time at Siesta Key Public Beach has had some introduction to Scot Ruberg, 56, known by his beach name, “Scooter.” His long beach-bleached hair, tall coconut palm frond hat, perennial tan and sunniest of dispositions put you right in the mood for a beach day.
From snowy Canada to just around the corner, more than 20,000 people follow his Facebook video posts to get a glimpse of the ocean, hear the sounds of the waves and seagulls, and watch his beach report near his perch at the Magical Green Lifeguard Tower.
Many of these followers have never been to Siesta Key, or perhaps they’re once-a-year visitors, but his cheerful morning reports of blue water and white sand connect them to something restorative.
“It’s absolutely beautiful this morning,” he posted one day last winter. “Get out here before the rain starts. Get yourself a walk, go for a bike ride, just come and sit and drink your coffee and absorb the absolute beauty the mornings bring here. The sun’s coming up. Birds are singing. Have a great day.”
“His outlook is so refreshing,” says Sarasota resident Raymond Grimaldi, who remembers when Scooter started the page three years ago. “It’s little wonder that his vibe has caught fire.”
Originally from Illinois, Ruberg spent 10 years in Daytona Beach, attending college and lifeguarding. He came to Siesta Key back in the late ’80s for a lifeguard tournament, stepped on the sand and…
“My jaw dropped,” he says.
The white quartz sand, friendly people and beautiful blue water were just what he was looking for, so in 1994, he signed on as a Sarasota County lifeguard.
Jean luc Provost comes down to his home here each winter, but Covid-19 has left him and his wife, Denyse, in the chill of his hometown of Montreal. The short minute or two daily videos on the Scooter of the Beach Facebook page warm his heart, if not his toes. He met Scooter, like many Siesta Key tourists do, at his green lifeguard tower.
“I took a picture of him with my granddaughter,” says luc Provost, who looks for the videos every morning. “We miss the place this year, and the videos keep us in touch with the beach.”
In the world of professionally shot video, voiceovers and cleverly positioned advertising, Scooter of the Beach page stands out for its one-man-show approach. His videos are too short for Facebook advertisers, and despite the desire to monetize the page, he is resistant.
“It’s real,” Scooter says. “It’s impromptu. I make mistakes, and people laugh.”
The videos have a Garrison Keillor or Charles Kuralt feel to them, says Grimaldi.
“There is something significantly magical about the beach,” Grimaldi says. “I feel it. The various people I run into, they feel it as well. And Scooter is the perfect spokesperson for it.”
Scooter’s towheaded 9-year-old son, “Little Finn” (not his real name but one they use for the videos), sometimes pops up with his dad’s same happy disposition and wide smile. His wife, Mandy, tends to stay away from the videos, but is a big supporter of the page.
He travels from Casey Key to Longboat Key to give a beach report and loves to give shout-outs to Siesta Key businesses that he frequents. “It could be a lifeguard, a bartender, the guy renting bikes or renting boats,” he says.
The beach vibe extends to his house in Osprey. His yard is filled with colorful native plants and a tiki bar adorned with license plates from all over the world, given to him by his many fans, whom he calls “a tribe of people that just love Siesta Key.”
Eventually, he’ll retire and travel to beaches along Florida’s coasts to give reports on each beach with history, interesting facts and interviews. He hopes to make his travels into a coffee table book.
But for now, Scooter enjoys making his daily videos, knowing somewhere out there, someone is watching and smiling. More and more people stop by the Magical Green Lifeguard Tower to wave hello, having met him on the page.
“People come every year, and they say, ‘That old blond lifeguard is still here,’” he says. “I’ve been sitting in the same place for 25 years. I’ve watched families come each year; I take pictures with their kids. Now, their kids are bringing their kids.”