Since my Grandmother moved to Florida, my family has had reason to visit the place where Amish and Mennonites gather to go on Spring Break. Incidentally, the old also go there to make it their retirement home. Grandma and several aunts live in this place called Sarasota, which is a built up city along the gulf coast south of Tampa. Several aunts clean homes for the rich and make a good living doing so. I'm even told that Leno or the other evening talk show guy has a house on the coast down there.
But then there is this little space between the freeway and the coast, called Pinecraft, that the Amish Mennonites have occupied since before my grandparents' youth days. The Real Estate is interesting and this journalist writes about it here in the Sarasota Magazine.
What I found most interesting about Pinecraft culture was what my aunt has described to me. she even took me "cruising" past Pinecraft Park which is merely a dumpy looking city park that is overloaded with Amish and Mennonites during "amish spring break," which begins sometime in December and peaks during Christmas and New Year, then fades slowly until about April or May. Rental prices in Pinecraft accommodate the demands during this season. And yes, the state of the properties in Pinecraft is as awful as the journalist describes, compared to the rest of Sarasota. But then again Amish and Mennonites have always stepped to the beat of their own drum.
Gawking is Pinecraft's biggest pastime. There is this insurance agency across the street from a fruit stand on Bahia Vista Road that gives up its tiny parking lot for a bus that comes from Ohio or Pennsylvania or some other states with Amish population density. The bus arrives with it's mostly Amish passengers at a particular time of day. This is also the perfect time to go and see who is arriving to vacation in Florida. So, this large bus, packed with Amish arrives at this tiny parking lot filled with those who are welcoming them along with twice as many spectators. If the police weren't assured that these were peaceful people, they would assign officers to the area. One of these days I'm going to ride that bus to Pinecraft just for the experience.