Tony and Sue Antonious, owners of The Long Pier in Redington Shores, are getting ready for the 50th anniversary celebration at the pier.
REDINGTON SHORES – The man who owns The Long Pier in Redington Shores, Tony Antonious, shakes his head when he’s asked if, in his younger years, he ever thought he’d own a famous fishing pier in the state of Florida.
“I didn’t even think of living in Florida,” he said. “I was busy with a big city lifestyle. You don’t know what is going to happen until it happens.”
What happened back in 1998 was a family vacation. Tony was working as a tax accountant in New York City and brought his wife Sue and their five children to Florida for a break. They loved it and came back often.
“After that first time we came back three months later,” said Tony. “Then it got to be every month. So we decided the family would stay here and I would fly back and forth to New York.”
They bought a house in Redington Shores, not far from the pier, and when Tony saw that the Redington Pier was up for sale he bought it. And now this fall he and his family are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the construction of the pier.
The Antonious family bought the pier in 2000 and by 2007 Tony realized the Pier had to be refurbished.
In fact, part of it was ordered closed by the town of Redington Shores because of potentially unsafe conditions. Then followed a squabble with the town and Tony renamed the Pier the Dubai Pier, removing the Redington name altogether.
Eventually those differences got patched up and the name was restored. The refurbishing work got finished and the entire pier re-opened.
Antonious is pleased with how things have been going since then at the longest privately owned pier in the State of Florida.
“We have been getting good crowds since the renovation,” he said. “We could not ask for anything better. Most people come here for fishing and it is the only amusement park where you can go home with your dinner. But others come to walk on the pier or to watch the sunset. And it is always exciting to watch the fishermen because they often catch some pretty big fish, including sharks.”
The name “Long Pier” is appropriate. The pier is 1,200 feet long from the sand out into the Gulf. It is the length of four football fields
Walking on the pier gives you the feeling that you are walking out into the Gulf, and for $3 folks can do it. Fishermen must pay $12 to fish all day and for those who want to go to the very end of the pier it costs $15 to fish.
The final 180 feet of the pier commend the premium price because of the demand.
“Before we added the extra charge all the fishermen wanted to fish off the end,” said Tony. “There were too many people in too small a space. They would get tangled in each other’s lines and often tempers ran short. Since we added the extra fee the fishermen are better spread out along the entire pier. Not as many people are out on the end.”
Operating the pier has become a family affair. Tony’s wife Sue is on hand for the day to day operations of the business, son Christopher is involved in marketing the pier and in one way or another, daughters Jacqueline, Raquel, Melinda and Elizabeth also are involved.
Buying the pier, said Tony, has been good thing for his family.
“The pier has been very good to me,” he said. “It is part of our life and memory. It is part of our history and has created a legacy for our family. We were glad to be able to save the pier and fix it board by board, nail by nail, pile by pile and save it for another generation.”
On Friday, Sept. 28 the official 50th anniversary celebration will be held.
The mayor and other town officials will be on hand at 2:30 p.m. to cut the ribbon as Tony tries to recreate the same scene that officially opened the pier 50 years ago.
In addition to that there will be free fishing all day. Children must be accompanied by an adult.