Our Community - Tony Buono - "Flying high in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 21            June 5, 2003

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Tony Buono

It is part of human nature to smile, and within every community there exist some people who feel it is their calling in life to spread cheer. Tony Buono of Fido's Funsports & Parasail is one San Pedro businessman who accomplishes both. He makes people happy and at the same time manages a successful enterprise.      

Tony was born in New York City, New York, USA on May 30th, 1956, the third of four children to parents Mary and Dominick Buono. Tony's first love for music came from his father's hobby, which was playing saxophone.

When Tony was three years old, his parents moved to Clearwater Beach on the west coast of Florida. It was there that Tony began his education and where his interests in music and singing were nurtured. Tony sang soprano/tenor in the school choir and played saxophone for the band. Once his secondary education was complete, Tony attended Troy State University where he obtained an Associate Degree in Psychology. It was during this time that Tony's best buddy stated he had to "come and see Belize."

Studying psychology sensitized Tony and made him more aware of how differently individuals deal with problems. He decided that his energies would be best spent helping troubled youths, and went to work for the state of Florida counseling young teens in schools and juvenile homes. He soon found that this career was "too hard on the heart," but it also taught him "people cannot be convinced as to what to do; they are more a product of their environments."

Tony abandoned the life of a counselor and took to the beach for a more positive environment. Unknowingly, he began a career in watersports working the booth at a parasail company. Tony dedicated his evenings to his music career and spent the next three years writing and recording music with a group of rock and roll musicians out of Boston called "Locust." As a result of their growing popularity, the band was heavily scouted by Warner Brothers, and negotiations started on a record deal. Just when the band members thought they had realized their collective dream, "Rap and Grunge" hit. Rock and roll was put on the back burners of the music industry, and people like MC Hammer and Nirvana took over.

It was at this point in Tony's life that he walked away from music and decided to concentrate on his financial security. Only in his mid-30s, Tony created his first business "Classic Limousine Service" with just one limo, but this enterprise quickly grew to three more vehicles as well as two cigarette boats, which he called "Liquid Limos." Tony maintained contact with people in the music industry and met several big names in the entertainment business through the limousine service. Successful but not truly happy, Tony felt that something was still missing, so he eventually ended up selling the business.

    As fate would have it, an entertainment executive from Cox's Communications heard him singing at a large Classic Rock Radio Station promotion and offered Tony another shot at performing on stage. Tony was offered the opportunity to showcase his voice singing lead vocals for his own band called "Escape." This band was a "Journey" tribute band with full radio station support and promotion, (Journey had not toured together for 15 years). "Escape" shared the stage with other rock bands such as Jefferson Starship, Eddie Money and Pat Benatar. While it was not exactly Tony's dream come true to be singing another band's music, it was still an opportunity to entertain large crowds of up to 20,000 screaming fans.

    Tony toured with "Escape" from 1994 to 1998 until "Journey" reunited with a new singer and began to tour again. Ironically, Tony was the special guest at "Journey's" first show in Florida and spent the entire evening partying with the band. "Journey's" reunion made Tony decide to pull the plug on his tribute band. This decision, combined with the death of his father resulted in him taking a break and discovering Belize.

    In 1998, Tony visited San Pedro for the first time and fell in love with the island.  Seven visits later, Tony and his fianc»e Yvonne moved to San Pedro permanently and settled into island life. In December of 1999, Tony and Yvonne established their own water sports enterprise, Funsports, which specializes in parasailing. On July 7th 2001, the lovebirds were married on the beach at Fido's Courtyard where the business is located.        

    In Belize, Tony rekindled his love for music again and helped to spawn the local rock band "Category 7," which made its debut on Christmas Eve 2001. Lately, Tony does not spend as much time singing with the band, but continues to "jam" with all the talented local musicians. His desire to play music and entertain lives on. He suggests that perhaps "there will be another rock band in San Pedro next year."

    When Tony is not providing lucky visitors with parasail trips over "La Isla Bonita" or making surprise appearances with local bands, he prefers to spend time with his new wife and their two dogs.  Tony Buono has come a long way to pursue his passions "singing and sailing" his way into Our Community.

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