Friends of the Library stuck to the neighborhood last Friday night for their second annual casino night fundraiser, this one at St. Katherine’s Greek Orthodox Church just across Airport Road from Collier County Library Headquarters. And, not surprisingly, many of the arriving 250 members and supporters reminisced about celebrating over there among the stacks where they had feted the organization’s 50th anniversary back in 2007.
It turned out that partying in a church hall was just as conducive to hours of fun with slots activated and blackjack, poker, roulette and craps tables full up as soon as the croupiers took their places. Bar and snack breaks — FineMark National Bank’s Chef Kristina San Filippo and her staff had prepared endless trays of hors d’oeuvres and area Sweetbay Supermarkets platters of heavier eats — and trips to examine and bid on silent auction of raffle items kept table spaces and slot seats warm.
Entrepreneur Kimberly McDill, owner of Lee County-based Primetime Events of Southwest Florida specializing casino-type entertainment, was everywhere, ensuring that all was in order at the authentic tables and slot machines, and distributing “play money” bank notes, chips and raffle tickets.
Two of the most popular blackjack dealers were tall George Rivera, whose table was a draw for the women, and Mario Bono, who known as “great fun but fair and willing to teach” and amused everyone who squeezed in at his table.
In general, dress was casual with a few jackets, shawls and sweaters worn in deference to the cold snap. Decked out in white jacket, black shirt and trousers and a black and white tie, the smartly attired Robert Licci was an exception. The table sponsor and accomplished graphic artist described his Neapolitan Way beauty salon, Roberto of Italy, as an “art gallery” as well.
Nick Linn, founder of the Library’s annual lecture series featuring internationally acclaimed authors, was widely congratulated during the evening for having received a top award just the day before from the Southwest Florida Library Network. While he basked in kudos, wife Sara was happily occupied at the tables.
Friends executive director Linda Fasulo estimated that net proceeds from the event would reach $13,000. Tickets for members were $35 per person and non-members $55 per person. Among major sponsors were Arthrex and Larson Allen. The funds raised will be used to underwrite costs for Collier County Public Library programs, equipment, capital construction and services not funded by ad valorem tax dollars.