Another First Apollo Beach Mayor

By Mitch Traphagen (

APOLLO BEACH - By now it should be clear that using the word "first" to describe any event in south county is fraught with a virtual certainty of inaccuracy.

It seems that almost everything has happened before.

The July 3 article about John MacDonald, recently named honorary mayor of Apollo Beach, described him as being the first honorary mayor.

It may well have been correct to say that he was the first honorary mayor sponsored by the Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce. Unfortunately I didnít say that.

It turns out that in 1984, Merlin Riddle was elected honorary mayor as part of the Apollo Beach Civic Association.

The election was held in much the same way as the 2003 election with the winning candidate chosen based on the amount of donations collected. In 1984, 50 percent of the proceeds went to the civic association and 50 percent went to what was then known as the South Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce.

Charlie Riddle of Ruskin pointed out the error. While he did that in a good natured way, he was legitimately concerned about the past efforts of others being forgotten.

People who volunteer for the betterment of the community, people such as Merlin Riddle, John MacDonald, and even Charlie Riddle, who is one of the organizers of the Ruskin Tomato Festival, should be remembered for their civic commitment regardless of whether their efforts took place 19 years ago or just last week.

I stand corrected on the recent article describing MacDonald as the "first" honorary mayor. Given that, however, I am reluctant to describe Riddle as the first for the same reason. I simply donít know what might have happened in the 1970s.

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