Everybody loves a parade and the 15th Annual Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade on Saturday is sure to exceed all expectations of fun, food and entertainment for young and old alike.
This year’s boat parade theme is “The Good Old Days,” meaning adapt any idea that relates to life, events, music, movies, TV shows from several decades ago then use that idea to decorate the crew and boat to depict it, explained Elaine Ritchie, president of Mardi Gras Goodland Inc., the non-profit organization that sponsors the annual fundraiser.
“This is the first year we’ll be having activities at the new Goodland Boat Park. The boat ramp will be closed to the public that day (Feb. 19),” stated Ritchie.
“The activities will include live music, and Mardi Gras Goodland volunteers Sandi Bryson and Jared Kelly will be cooking and selling hot dogs, hamburgers, sodas and chips. Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala will be judging from the docks there. In previous years we had similar activities at the Pink House Motel property but there won’t be any activities there now that we have the boat park.”
Nevertheless, there will be plenty of food and fun with live music and special events at local hot spots. Each of the Goodland eateries will be offering food specials and local artists with tents at various locations displaying and selling their crafts and an ice cream truck making the rounds selling cold treats. There will be plenty of parking and guests should bring their own lawn chairs and a cooler of food or beverages if they want. Raffle winning tickets will be drawn at 1:30 p.m. before and after the parade at Stan’s, while other drawings will be held at the boat park.
Ritchie noted the community is pitching in with up to 40 MGG volunteers involved in selling event souvenir T-shirt sales, and raffle tickets for fabulous prizes. The volunteers have also been selling at various locations including the Marco Island Farmers Market booth, manned by volunteers for the past three Wednesdays. In addition to T-shirt and raffle ticket sales that booth has been doing a special promotion and fundraising with prominent local artist/author Gene Mandarino’s new book “The People Watchers’ Guide to Marco Island, FL.”
“He is donating the proceeds from the sale of the book to Avow Hospice as part of the boat parade earnings. In the past Gene has given us original water color paintings that we have used as auction items. They would always go for about $1,000.” said Ritchie, noting that the booth at Mardi Gras Goodland Boat Parade Marshal Stan Gober’s restaurant is where her chief volunteer Mary Miller, who incidentally happens to be Gene’s niece, is in charge of events before and during parade day and where one of the three boat parade judges will also be judging from the docks.
Ritchie related that over 20 boats have registered for the parade but it’s not unusual for latecomers to come and register their boats during the boat captains’ 7 p.m. meeting at Stan’s the night before the parade when they give out numbers for the registered boats. She emphasized that unregistered boats that can’t produce a line up number will not be permitted enter the parade lineup that starts 2 p.m. at marker G15 near Moran’s Barge Marina.
The boats will take a turn through the Goodland Harbor and then continue around the island ending at the Goodland Boat Park after they pass the judge’s stand. There will be 12 parade winners, starting with first place and continuing on through categories such as biggest, smallest, most originality, music , costumes and props to name a few. Those coming by boat can dock, dine and watch the action at Stan’s, The Little Bar, Marker 8 Restaurant or The Old Marco Lodge while other boats may anchor as close to the mangroves as possible between the Goodland Bridge and Marker R10.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Avow Hospice Inc. and fund support services provided by the organization’s Marco Island office.