Marcophiles: Vietnam Wall on Marco – A monumental undertaking

The dolphin with the prosthetic tail is ?Winter,? the star of 'Dolphin Tale,' a film shot in the Tampa Bay area, a true story. It?s a true story and there?s a local angle for us here in Southwest Florida.

Photo by Courtesy/Warner Brothers

The dolphin with the prosthetic tail is ?Winter,? the star of "Dolphin Tale," a film shot in the Tampa Bay area, a true story. It?s a true story and there?s a local angle for us here in Southwest Florida.

— We are just beginning to grasp the size, scope, expense and expanse of the visit of the Traveling Vietnam Wall to Marco Island in December.

It’s a daunting project. Here are examples of what’s in store for Islanders and the expected thousands of visitors during the wall’s stay, starting Dec. 6 at Veterans Community Park.

When the trucks arrive with the wall, 30 to 40 volunteers will be needed to help set up the wall.

Probably hundreds of volunteers will be needed to secure the sight day and night, to stand along the wall answering questions of visitors, to operate electronics that help visitors locate the names of their loved ones on the wall and to work preparing the area around the exhibit.

Volunteers also will read aloud the names and hometowns of the 1952 Floridians who died in Vietnam.

This is but a fraction of the work required and the person-power needed to do it.

The wall exhibit on Marco is presented by Iberia Bank. Other sponsors also are joining in. Leading the planning committee are Chairman Lee Rubenstein, who persuaded the wall organization to come here, Carole Roberts and Keith Dameron, VP/Manager of the Iberia Bank branch on Marco.

They and others are working at warp speed to pull it all together. We’ll keep you posted.

The big flag on the bridge idea gains momentum

Things are happening as well with the nascent effort to put up a big American flag on the newly expanded Jolley Bridge.

Naples radio personality Dave Elliott is throwing his considerable talents behind the Big Flag Campaign, making plans for a possible radio fundraiser in a week or so.

Even before the volunteers who thought up the Big Flag Campaign could really get organized, one reader told us he wants to make a generous donation to the effort.

We want your thoughts, suggestions and ideas on the project. Should government pay for it? Private funds? We’ll track this terrific campaign soon and often.

A wounded animal, a nearby locale and Morgan Freeman: A movie no-brainer

A movie that tells an inspiring true story and has local connections should be a sure thing in popularity here.

It’s playing now at the Marco Movies – “Dolphin Tale” – starring Winter the dolphin. The human actors are pretty cool too, including Morgan Freeman, Kris Kristofferson, Ashley Judd and Harry Connick, Jr.

The movie tells the story of a dolphin that gets caught in a crab trap and loses its tail. Winter is taken to the Clearwater Marine Hospital, where she makes a connection with a young boy who had helped rescue her from the beach.

After that a lot of people spend a lot of time to help create a prosthetic tail.

There’s a happy ending to this warm and fuzzy film. But you knew that.

The area connection, other than the Tampa Bay region, is that the Conservancy of Southwest Florida played a backstage role in the film.

Explains the Conservancy’s marketing director, Barbara Wilson:

“Conservancy members may recognize remnants of our old Discovery Center. The Conservancy recycled old props and exhibits by donating them for the movie set.

“After filming, the movie props were given to the Clearwater Aquarium and to numerous nature centers around the region to become a part of environmental exhibits reaching tens of thousands of people every year.”

There’s a message there for Southwest Florida boosters. The film commissioner in Pinellas County says the film’s production company spent about $16 million while making the movie and a lot more money came in from expenses for the 200 or so crew and cast members who were there for several months, reports

So here on Marco, be on the lookout in our waters for a traumatized tarpon, a manatee in misery or maybe a ray in dismay. If found, rescue it, heal it and launch it and your movie career at the same time.

Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail

Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail:

© 2011 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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