As I write this commentary, the Christmas holiday season is winding down. We prepare to welcome in the New Year in our individual fashions and with a different meaning for each of us.
Christmas is a special time of the year and it’s natural to concentrate on the many celebrations and wonders of the season; to make plans for the many parties and special events which bring joy to so many and smiles to the faces of children and adults alike.
The 20-person committee which works on the events known as “Christmas Island Style” wants to take this moment to say thanks to all who have contributed with both treasure and talent to make this a wonderful and joyous season for our residents and guests.
This year’s events started early in November at the first fundraiser hosted for CIS at Erin’s Isle, by its owner Mike Ward. It continued with the generosity offered by Stan’s in Goodland. Those events were quickly followed by our annual Christmas Island Style Golf Classic at the Lely Resort and our first ever Christmas Spaghetti Dinner at the San Marco Church Hall which was hosted by the Knights of Columbus. All of these wonderful events along with the Chamber of Commerce’s Holiday After 5 and your individual donations helped to make Christmas Island Style completely self funded in 2009.
With most of the major fundraising behind us, the big events began; Santa’s arrival, the Christmas Tree lighting, the street parade and the boat parade were much anticipated by all. Throughout the season, travelers on Collier Blvd. enjoyed the banners hung on the lamp posts and the angels which adorned the medians and many condos and private homes.
The partnership which has been forged with the city staff over the last five years is a wonderful example of how citizens can interact with government to provide Marco residents with truly exceptional services by leveraging the abilities of private citizens and the public assets owned by us all.
During the course of 2009 all of us have either been involved in or known someone who has experienced challenges in their lives. As Marco Islanders we have been quick to come together on many occasions to help respond to those needs and make a difference in the lives of so many.
These efforts are not lost on our committee and over the last five years we have worked behind the scenes with organizations such as the Alumni Club, Kiwanis Club, Mom’s of Marco, local clergy and the Marco Police Department to insure families facing a challenge during this special season won’t be forgotten.
This year we also joined in the efforts of the Marco Presbyterian Church to help provide a wonderful Thanksgiving meal for some of our own residents in need and to those public safety personnel who were on duty that day serving our citizens and away from their loved ones. This was a continuation of a project we helped to start last year with Annie, Rick and Lauren, the owners of the Chef’s Express in Old Marco.
This year also saw a touching tribute to our nation’s veterans; the men and women who have given their all in defense of our liberties and freedom. Each vet at the Holiday Salute to Veterans and Christmas Concert was recognized and thanked for their service, along with those still putting their lives on the line in distant lands.
This year we were also honored to have Olivia Davis as our grand marshall for the Christmas parade. Olivia’s courageous battle and the strength of her family and many friends here on Marco embodies the hope and joy of this wonderful Christmas Season and all that it represents to the people who celebrate it. A special thank you Olivia, for being our shining star at the top of the Marco Christmas season this year.
Thanks are also owed to the members of the Marco Police Foundation, the Marco Island Yacht Club, the Hilton Resort, the Boy Scouts of Marco Island, the Marco Presbyterian Church,, the San Marco Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus, Mom’s of Marco, Condee Cooling and Electric, LCEC, the Marco Optimist Club and so many other wonderful organizations and individuals.
The Christmas Island Style Board of Directors, comprised of Greg Schneider, Wanda Day, Barb and Carmen Dasti, Pete and Eileen Ward, Paul Freeman, Dick Shanahan, Bette McGilvray, Bob Olson, Debra Sanders, Roy Birkeland, Jerry and Dee Bare, Deb Schroeder, Pat Reese, Jerry Gibson, Jennifer Johnson and myself would like to wish all Marco Islanders a wonderful and happy 2010 and thank you for your efforts to make Marco Island a better place for us all.