MARCO ISLAND — If it weren’t the Police Foundation, you could have called the dinner guests “the usual suspects.”
A high percentage of the movers and shakers of Marco Island got together Saturday evening at the San Marco Catholic Church parish hall for the Marco Police Foundation’s (MPF) 10th anniversary dinner.
They began their dinner bowing their heads for the invocation delivered by San Marco’s Father Tim Navin, whose church donated the use of the hall. City Council Chairman Jerry Gibson led the group in the pledge of allegiance, and the crowd, including County Commissioner Donna Fiala, police captain Dave Baer, and former police chief Thom Carr, got on with cocktails, conversation and prime rib.
Baer put together a PowerPoint slide show showing the work of the MIPD, which played while the attendees dined. Current police chief Don Hunter, attending a conference in Chicago, was not on hand.
After dinner, provided by Mike Ward of Erin’s Isle at what MPF board member and co-organizer of the event Joe Granda called “a sweetheart deal – he gave us a great price,” there was a brief program. MPF President Bill Morris took attendees through a timeline of the foundation’s history, and presented a plaque to Harold Kendall, the only board member with 10 years’ uninterrupted service. Jack Patterson, also on hand and on the board, was an initial board member, but stepped down for a couple years in the interim.
Then diners took to the tables, playing four different games of chance organized by Lou and Barbara Prigge. The Rat Race, featuring mechanical rats, was supervised by Mike Stapleton and Father Gordon Zamatti of San Marco.
Al Bismonte served as croupier at the roulette table, Steve Stefanides managed the ring toss game, and Gibson handled the ball tossing event.
The MPF’s 10th was not the only anniversary celebrated. Don and Pat Lapato were recognized for their 56th wedding anniversary, falling on that same Saturday. One more wedding in the MPF family was also fresh in people’s minds on Saturday.
Two of Granda’s co-organizers, organizers extraordinaire Dick and Debra Shanahan, vice president and executive director, respectively of the MPF, were also presumably organizing their own wedding, which took place the day before at San Marco, with a reception afterward for 200 at CJ’s on the Bay. Granda gave away the bride, and said, “I had a lot of people tell me the father of the bride looked very young.”
Granda said the turnout on Saturday was good, but could have been even better. “I was hoping for 150, and we got 130,” he said.
“This is a big milestone, 10 years of the Police Foundation,” said Sanders. “All of our fundraising goes to the Police Foundation scholarship fund and emergency fund.” The emergency fund, she said, goes to officers of the Marco Island police and their families, to help out with unforeseen circumstances and “take care of things insurance won’t cover, pay for the education of our police officers’ kids, and the officers’ continuing education in law enforcement.”
Shanahan was also happy to keep the MPF the subject of discussion.
“It’s been 10 years of great things. Lots of wonderful events – luncheons, pig roasts, and golf tournaments,” he said. Patterson said the group was much smaller, and not sure of their support, when they began 10 years ago.
“It was right after the vote to maintain the police department,” he remembered. “We only won by a few votes. We said we gotta keep this movement alive.”
Ten years and a lot of community contributions later, the Marco Police Foundation is going strong. The organization has had three events in the last month, with the golf tourney, their major fundraiser, at the end of September, and the Rib Cookoff earlier this month.
“Now, we’re done for the year,” said Granda.