I've lived in Sarasota for more than a decade. I moved here mostly because it wasn't Ohio, and stayed because I fell in love with everything about it.
I have since come to call Sarasota my home. Over the years, however, I've noticed that Sarasota is a quirky city with some pretty interesting people.
I'm sure I left a few archetypes off this list. So, if you can think of a Sarasota stereotype you'd like to share with me, leave it in the comments below:
1. The Snowbird
This one seems pretty obvious, so I decided to get it out of the way early. For the uninitiated, “Snowbird” is a term used in reference to the part-time Sarasota residents who head north for the hotter summer months and return during the nicer winter months.
This migration happens twice annually. The first one is after Thanksgiving – unless it's a warm winter, in which case the migration gets pushed back until after the holidays– and the second one happens again around Easter, when things start to thaw out up north. They are responsible for most of the traffic congestion, and also make up a good portion of the Bumper Car Drivers.
2. The Senior Socialite
Just because Sarasota has the reputation of being a sleepy little retirement town, that doesn't mean the the people there don't like to party.
To be honest, you've probably never partied until you've seen drunk grandma doing the Dougie, while the grandpa dances shirtless at a beach bar.
You'll find the senior socialites downtown on a weeknight, on Siesta Key on a Sunday afternoon or even over at Oleary's Tiki Bar, getting weird during happy hour.
3. The Too Tan Dude
You'll see this guy on pretty much every beach in the area. Sometimes, he's accompanied by Too Tan Girl. But most of the time it's just him.
He's usually wearing a Speedo so he can minimize his tan line, and he's usually either really skinny or ridiculously fat. There is no in between.
Sometimes, you'll see him riding a bike. But usually, he'll be walking on the beach by himself. He will always look slightly lost, yet appropriately placed.
4. The Teen Who Wants to Move Away
Sarasota has the reputation of being a retirement town. So it's really no surprise that many of the local teens and young professionals admit to thinking about moving away to a bigger city.
What they fail to see are the things happening in Sarasota below the surface, and how important it is for them to get involved in helping us shape the future of this city we all love. The same people also fail to see how much their apathy compounds the lack of progress here in Sarasota.
If they realized that all they have to do is stand up and get involved, we might actually get something done in this town.
5. The Secret Stoner
While heroin usage is on the rise in Manatee County, it seems like marijuana is the drug of choice here in Sarasota, especially down on Siesta Key. Just go down to the public beach at sunset on a Sunday.
The drum circle will keep you entertained, and if you don't catch a whiff of weed, you're probably in the wrong place. No one wants to talk about it, but everyone is doing it. Welcome to Sarasota.
6. The Plastic Face
If you've been here for more than a few weeks, you've probably seen this once or twice already. It's usually the result of a salty personality mixed with too much plastic surgery. This combination inevitably leaves some middle-aged woman looking like her face has been pulled back so tight that the skin around her eyes might rip if she blinks too hard.
Also, these types of women rarely stop at just the face. They usually get their lips and boobs done, too. With no shame in their game, you'll find them clinging onto, looking for or taking advantage of their sugar-daddies.
You'll recognize them in public because they'll be wearing white capris, leopard-print blouses and heels that match, but are too tall to walk in comfortably.
7. The Homeless
Sarasota is a wealthy town, but due to having double the average number of homeless residents for a city of our size, we also have a serious homelessness problem.
This is most likely due to the generous nature of Sarasota residents, the warm, year-round climate and the lenient stance the city has taken on the presence of homeless people in public places.
While most of the homeless people in Sarasota are harmless, there are a few who are quite aggressive when they ask for assistance. One lady, in particular, is well known for her drunken late-night rants through Main Street and the surrounding area. Chances are, if you go out in Sarasota – whether during the day or at night – you'll run into at least one homeless person who will ask for your help.
8. The Retired Executive
There is no shortage of retired CEOs and former bigwigs here in Sarasota. These are people who built empires, and then retired to paradise. It's one of the reasons there is so much money in this town, and also why there are so many non-profits in the area.
These retired folk are a great resource for local young professionals because they're full of insight and experience. You'd be surprised by how many of them are looking for opportunities to do something other than play another round of golf at the Ritz or spend another lonely afternoon on a yacht.
Yes, some of them are snobby assh*les. But most of them are actually willing mentors, and they're interested in helping you succeed. You just have to get out of your own way a bit and find the right mentor for you.
9. The Fit Freak
These guys work out at a CrossFit gym in your backyard, and you don't even know it. You can spot them easily in public because they like to congregate in large numbers and wear really tight clothes.
The Fit Freaks also like to touch their muscles in public and flex randomly whenever you meet them. They are usually harmless. That is, unless you get them drunk. Then, they like to break things and constantly remind you how much harder they work out than you do.
10. The Amish On Tricycles
If you've ever driven around Bahia Vista and Beneva, then you've probably seen some Amish people riding around on tricycles. Most of them are actually Mennonite, and there is a large concentration of them here in Sarasota.
The neighborhood is called Pinecraft, and it is a popular vacation destination for both Amish and Mennonite communities from Ohio and Pennsylvania. They have been featured on national TV shows like "Breaking Amish," and they seem to enjoy hanging out on the beach just like the rest of us. Although, they do have far more clothes on than most of us would wear.
11. The Circus Performer
Sarasota has been a circus town since John Ringling made it the winter home for his 1927 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. If you start spending a lot of time in the area, you're bound to bump into someone who performs in the circus for a living. The things they can do will blow your mind.
You can check out local performances over at the Circus Conservatory, or in different acts across the world. The most prominent, of course, is Sarasota's very own Nik Wallenda. He walked across the Grand Canyon on a 1-inch-high wire, without a net.
12. The Starving Artist
The Starving Artist is not unique to Sarasota. But with a world-class art college and one of the most liberal universities in all of America, Sarasota definitely has its fair share of hopeful hippies.
Throw in Sarasota's high society, and you get an art scene that seems unattainable for many of the local artists who give Sarasota its creative flair. The bohemian feel of parts of the Rosemary District is a huge draw for members of the creative community who are on the edge of no longer being able to afford homes in their hometowns.
13. The Runaway
For a long time, Sarasota has served as a playground to the wealthy. It's a place where people from the midwest and northeast come to retire. You get to disappear from the mainstream, while still being able to connect to big city amenities.
Spend enough time in this town, and you'll probably run into a doomsday prepper who lives out in Myakka, or someone else who's trying to start his or her life over in a place far removed from wherever this person lived before he or she got here.
14. The Bumper Car Driver
This is the old person you've seen driving, who can barely see over the steering wheel of his or her car. These people usually drive at about half the speed limit. They change lanes without warning, stop in the middle of intersections and drive in-between lanes.
Their bumpers are used like antennae, in order to feel around for places to park. If you're not careful, you might end up side-swiped or T-boned by one of these drivers. It's the reason there are so many body shops in the area.
Before you move to Sarasota, know that your insurance premium is about to go way up.
15. The Rich Kid
You'll see the rich kids riding around Sarasota in the super cars daddy's dollars bought them. They probably have trust funds. They might have jobs, but they definitely don't work for a living.
The rich kids like to pretend they're down for the struggle. They can be quite entertaining to keep around (assuming you find one who isn't too much of a douchebag).
It's hard to stay mad at a rich kid, though. They know when they screw up. When they do, a ridiculously overpriced makeup present ends up coming your way. (On second thought, maybe I should find more rich kids to hang out with.)
16. The Trophy Wife
A list like this wouldn't be complete without talking about all the different breeds of cougars we have roaming these parts of Sarasota. It's an unavoidable side effect of living in a city where too many old white guys have entirely too much money and not enough things to do.
With nothing more to do than spend her (obviously) hard-earned cash, the trophy wife splits her time equally between the day spa, the tennis court and the country club pool. Trophy wives often get together to gossip about other women who aren't as pretty, or who haven't hooked as wealthy of a sugar daddy as she has. "Housewives Of Sarasota County" anyone?