Now, that was a parade!
At 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday, 23 years ago, a parade set off from the South end of Bald Eagle Drive (at San Marco Road) and moved up Bald Eagle to Elkhorn, and then around to Elkcam Circle.
It ended at Elkcam and Bald Eagle. The parade, plus a preceding sunrise service and a Seminole encampment, marked the beginning of a celebration that lasted for a month, with a closing service at sunset on Marco’s beach. The reason for all the hoopla? The observance of Marco Island’s 20 anniversary in its “modern” era.
The parade was a big deal for Marco, with its 30 floats, 34 other vehicles, five bands and 16 marching units. The president of the Chamber of Commerce at the time, Randy Gaffney said it was one of the biggest events ever in the history of Marco Island.
The bands came from Immokalee, Lely, Naples and Barron Collier high schools. Also in the parade was the marching band of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football team.
Some of the best-known restaurants on Marco at the time had their own floats. Places such as O’Shea’s, the Bavarian Inn and Erin’s Isle from up the highway were present.
The month-long celebration also featured the BMW Tennis Championships at the Marriott, a Gene Sarazen golf tournament, a marathon Bridge tournament at Hideaway Beach Clubhouse, a street dance, a Ninja exhibition, a sailing regatta, beach parties, sunset cruises, an Art League show and even an Ikebana International demonstration. I think that has to do with flower arrangements.
Three cheers for Marco’s cops
Once in a while it’s wise to remind ourselves of how nice Marco Island really is. Right now, with a crucial election coming up in four days, this is one of those times.
I refer specifically to crime on our island. These figures are not up to the minute but they are indicative of a welcome downward trend in crime here.
For the year 2006 (2007 totals are not available yet), crime on Marco was down 11.5 percent compared with the previous year.
Here are some specifics:
There was one reported rape in 2006. There were six in 2005.
Robberies went up, from zero in 2005 to two in 2006.
Aggravated assaults were down to 12 in 2006 from 16 in 2005.
No homicides were reported in either year.
As you might expect there generally are a lot more non-violent crimes here than the violent acts listed above.
Still, burglaries went down by one in 2006,
larcenies were down 20,
car thefts were down by one.
In short we had 207 non-violent crimes in 2006, down 22 from the year before.
The big picture, so to speak, is even brighter.
Crime on Marco is down 44.2 percent since 2000, when the Marco Island Police Department began providing law enforcement here. 44.2 percent!
Police here are quick to give credit to responsible citizens whose assistance is important in preventing and solving crimes. The Marco Police Foundation also gets kudos for its Neighborhood Watch program.
“Friendly” yards — here’s how
Start with attending a seminar Friday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., at Mackle Park. You can learn from the experts what to do and not do as you landscape your property.
“Specifically, the benefits that could save time, energy and money while protecting our fragile environment,” says a news release from City Hall. And the meeting Friday is especially timely.
“This workshop is being presented when Marco Island is facing stricter water use regulations for our gardens,” notes Alan Brown, a member of the City’s Beautification Advisory Committee.
You can get more information on the event this afternoon from the City’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Call 642-1666.
Election night tip
Soon after the polls close and the votes are tabulated next Tuesday you can see the latest returns/results online. Just go to www.colliervotes.com, the official website of the elections department. I’ll be going on right after 7 p.m.
Don Farmer has been a full-time Marco Islander for 10 years and a part-time resident for more than 30 years. He says full-time is better. Farmer welcomes your ideas for column items via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.