MARCO ISLAND — Marco’s parks were busy Saturday. Veterans Park sprouted a forest of white tents, to house the vendors and exhibits of the St. Patrick’s Day celebration put on by the Sons and Daughters of Erin. Winterberry Park hosted Community Fun Day, and a softball game between the police and firemen, to benefit both foundations that support their respective departments. Mackle Park was the site of a sailing regatta, with the Marco Island Model Yacht Club racing their radio-controlled sloops.
At Community Fun Day, kids slid down the inflatable slide, then ran right back up to take another shot. Misty Hart was making the rounds of all the day’s activities with her family members. They had already been to the St. Patrick’s Day festival, and planned to hit Family Fun Day at Marco Lutheran Church, but daughter Brynn, 20 months, fussed a little to show she had enough for a while.
“We’re hitting all the festivals, but she’s ready for nap time,” said Misty Hart.
The other big draw at Community Fun Day was the fire engines. Brody Hilting, age two, was delighted by the chance to get behind the wheel of a massive ladder truck. His brother Ryder, age four, stood up next to the wheel, and was amazed it was taller than he was.
Most of the action, though, was at the softball field, where the police and fire department teams squared off in a friendly competition. Charlie McPherson predicted the police would come out on top. As he made his call, though, the firemen went up by seven runs in the top of the first inning.
“The fire department have hot bats – yeah, they rest a lot,” said Pat McPherson, keeping alive the tradition of trash talking at these events.
Sal Saldano also predicted a police department victory, but pointed out he is a member of both the Police and Fire-Rescue Foundations. Joe Granda just kept popping the free popcorn for one and all.
At Veterans Park, Sister Kaite entertained the early revelers with Irish songs, including “Black Velvet Band,” and what she calls “mild intelligent humor.” Mike O’Ragan and Wally Marcoux sampled the goods at the J.J. Taylor beer truck, which had the taps built right into the side of the vehicle. Marcoux is not really an Irish name, conceded Wally.
“I married an Irishwoman,” he explained.
“We call him the Irish frog,” added O’Ragan.
Merchants sold Irish paraphernalia, including green derbies, shamrock pins, miniature leprechauns, Celtic crosses, and any jewelry that can be made in green. With the actual St. Patty’s Day still 12 days off, buyers could get maximum use from their purchases.
Jewelry, Irish or not, was a popular item from the fair’s vendors. Jackie Schreier bought several amber rings from Sophia Harski, who said the world’s best amber comes from around the Baltic Sea.
The biggest news from the St. Patrick’s Day festivities didn’t come till Saturday, when the drawing was held for the $10,000 raffle. Kevin Donlan and Willie McLaughlin went in together on the winning $100 ticket, so each collected $5,000. Another $5,000 and more will go to the parade fund, and the Catholic Faith Appeal, said event organizer Kathleen Reynolds.