The Boca Grande American Story Tour will bring the history of 22 celebrated village sites to life this holiday season for residents and visitors alike.
The 1.25-mile tour begins at Island Bike 'n' Beach in the center of the village at 333 Park Ave. and wends its way across nearly two dozen island attractions before winding up at Sam Murphy Park, 351 Park Ave.
In between will be stops at all island churches, the bike path, train depot, community center, Beachfronter residences, health clinic and San Marco Theater, which now houses P.J.'s Seagrille.
Principals of the Boca Grande American Story Tour, from left: Bike ’n’ Beach owner Terry Seitz and CFO Stacy Seitz, manager Nate Davis and creator Mickie Verderbar.
Featured inns include the Gasparilla Inn & Club, Palmetto Inn and Anchor Inn.
Other attractions include Banyan Street, Louise du Pont Crowninshield House, Dishong-Bowen House, Henry du Pont House, the Teacherage, The Island School and The Banana Patch.
An IPod audio tour guide will give added insights into the rich history, architecture and culture of Boca Grande. The self-guided walking, bicycling or golf cart tour is an ideal way to discover island treasures at your own speed and in your own style.
The tour is the brainchild of Chicago native Mickie Verderbar in partnership with Bike 'n' Beach owner Terry Seitz and CFO Stacy Seitz.
"I'm very glad Mickie came to us," Terra Seitz said. "It's the perfect partnership."
Verderbar said she was inspired by the Frank Wright Walking Tour in Oak Park near her hometown. She worked closely with Kimberly Kyle of the Boca Grande Historical Museum on background information.
"It seems as if Boca Grande was made for this kind of tour," she said.
Verderbar had to develop an electronic app with a team of developers for the first time in her career for this tour. The end result is a multimedia tour with music , sound effects, a variety of voice overs, and photos for each stop.
"The technology part was a challenge," she said. "The fun part was the writing, research and production."
Seitz, an avid historical preservationist in the process of restoring a 1929 furniture factory in High Point, N.C., said the project is win-win for everyone. His biggest surprise was learning how much he didn't know about his island home of 33 years.
"I thought I knew everything about it by now," he said with a laugh. "I learned a lot of new things. Even people who've lived here their entire life will learn something on this tour."
The $10 tour will be available at Bike 'n' Beach from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except major holidays. It is expected to launch the week before Christmas.
"Once someone takes this tour, I think they'll be hooked," Terry Seitz said.