Remembering Marco Island's Lady Christmas

Marion Blomeier in a white convertable in the 1989 Christmas Island Style parade. She earned the nickname 'Lady Christmas' after she spearheaded the first parade the year before. Submitted

Marion Blomeier in a white convertable in the 1989 Christmas Island Style parade. She earned the nickname "Lady Christmas" after she spearheaded the first parade the year before. Submitted

She was always an excited little girl on bright and snowy Christmas mornings and she learned to share the thrill of the holiday season as she grew into a beautiful young woman in her native Germany.

Christmas comes only once a year and it comes during good times and bad, but as the fair Lady Christmas struggled to keep the holiday spirit in her alive in heart, the land of Tannenbaum and cherished glass ornaments was shattered by a Blitz Krieg as World War II tried to stop Christmas from coming.

As the years passed and the bombs raged and the buildings crumbled, Lady Christmas sang in the bomb shelters and tried to bring cheer to her neighbors as her world fell apart. All throughout the terror and destruction, she kept a special place alive in her heart and grew determined to recapture peace on earth and good will toward everyone.

Lady Christmas arrives on Marco Island

Lady Christmas married her true love and arrived on Marco Island just when Marco seemed to be bursting with growing pains. There were giant dredging machines thrashing through mangrove forests and thousands of construction workers bent to the task of building a paradise where before there were only a few parcels of sandy high ground and an old Inn built in the 1800s.

Lady Christmas and her beloved Wilhelm Blomeier came to Marco Island in 1969. The old Inn needed a new manageress, an entertainer, and it needed a new chef. Without too much difficulty the Inn was open, the new chef installed, and very soon all along the streets of the old Marco village there were the sights and sounds of decoration and singing and the wonderful aromas of a European chef at the helm of a well stocked kitchen.

As the tropical summer sun began to go south and as a new and developing Marco Island continued to grow and begin to take shape, Lady Christmas understood that something was missing.

There were tropical palm trees and sultry stands of coco-plum, but there were no hints to set the mood for the upcoming holidays. The island it seemed was just too busy growing, and just too new and modern to decorate for anything as traditional as Christmas.

The old Inn however, as Lady Christmas decided, would be her beginning and starting point and it would be the showcase and inspiration to bring old world charm and cheer to a new and modern tropical island.

In Germany, Christmas is not only about the Tannenbaum, the tinsel, the snowy ornaments, the glittering and glowing lights, and the special food and the hot mulled wine … it's about the toys.

The toys apart from the traditional decorations were to be Lady Christmas' focus. Toys for all ages would be the tools, and Marco's Lady chose Teddy bears to guide everyone back to their first Christmas mornings and their earliest memories of the holiday season that brings out the very best in everyone.

Lady Christmas was never one to scrimp and for the first Christmas that Marion and beloved Wilhelm Blomeier were the innkeepers at the old Inn, a troop of Teddy bears of all shapes, colors, and sizes began finding their way into the restaurant and on every step of the stairs that lead up to the rooms. There were big Teddies and there were small ones, there was a bear of every kind imaginable and they were all carefully placed with affection and illuminated with lights, ornaments, and everything Christmas. Throughout the following years more Teddy bears checked in and made a permanent home at the inn.

Lady Christmas not only sang in the bomb shelters when the war was raging she also sang in the cabarets and nightclubs when the bombs were not falling. Her repeated philosophy was a simple statement she often made between her songs to remind everyone how special the gift of life could be: "Life is a cabaret old chum . . . come to the cabaret," and then she added with her special smile: "Come to the old Marco Inn."

As the years passed, and as Christmas on Marco was not complete without a visit to see the Holiday Teddy Bears and to hear Lady Christmas sing at the Inn, she knew she needed help to bring Christmas to the whole island and not just to one corner of the Marco village.

Island resident and historian Craig Woodward recalls from his teenage years living on Palm Street.

"Before Marion Blomeier began decorating the Inn, and before the decorations began to spread through old Marco, there really wasn't anything special about Christmas on the island. Marion really brought Christmas to Marco."

Christmas Island style began in 1987 with the inspiration of Marion Blomeier and the help of Dawn Norgren and Jill and Ewout Dvries. Craig Greusel was one of the first Christmas helpers along with Linda and Alan Sandlin. Val Murphy and Judy and Joel Gewurtz were also dedicated to the early Christmas spirit along with Nancy Garrison and Darlene Shultz. Rosemarie D'Haem: the former director of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce was also a major contributor and all the other Chamber members from the late 1980's.

"Before Marion started decorating and brought in all the Teddy Bears," Dawn Norgren recalled. "There wasn't much inspiration for Christmas. If you wanted to feel the holiday spirit before Christmas Island Style, you went to see Marion and her Teddy Bears at the Inn. Marion really was the inspiration for an Island style Christmas."

Dave Rice, Christmas Island Style advocate and holiday helper explained. "Marion was absolutely the person I looked to as the inspiration for Christmas on Marco. We would not have the same Christmas on the island today if not for Marion Blomeier."

Sandy Lazarus present director of the Marco Chamber recalls, "I remember when Marion rode as Lady Christmas in the first Christmas parade. I always looked forward to going to the Inn because it was always decorated with the spirit of Christmas."

Lady Christmas truly was and always will be Marion Blomeier. Marion passed on September 16, 2011, to join her beloved Wilhelm. She will never be forgotten as long as the spirit of Christmas remains alive and celebrated on Marco Island.

Happy Holidays Marco, Gooodland and Isles of Capri!

© 2012 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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