MARCO ISLAND — “We had great crowds, considering the weather,” said Steve Stefanides. With the chilly wind that blew in late Saturday, reminding people of just what they came to Southwest Florida to escape, “even the best Marco Islanders didn’t want to venture too far from home yesterday (Sunday). It was cold.”
In conjunction with the Marco Island Parks and Recreation Dept., the Marco Island Sunrise Rotary held the first of what they hope to turn into an annual event, the Party in the Park, at Veterans’ Community Park. The event spanned both Saturday and Sunday, but Saturday was definitely the more popular.
Gary Jarstad and Jimmy Downey manned the big drum, filled with chicken grilling, and Jack Patterson kept the hotdogs grilling, while Robert Blow handled the beer tap and Wanda Day filled cup after cup of wine, all for the cause. Musical entertainment was provided by the Marco Island Strummers, and Parks & Rec presented a Kids’ Sports Challenge to help the younger generation blow off some steam.
Proceeds from the event, said Stefanides, will go to assist the charitable efforts of the Rotary Club, such as scholarships for Marco Island high school students, books for Manatee Elementary and Manatee Middle Schools, and the Rotary’s Gift of Life program, in which the club pays for heart surgery for a child whose family is unable to afford it.
“We do two of those every year, over at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital in Ft. Lauderdale,” said Stefanides. Along with promoting their own causes, the club threw open the opportunity for other non-profits to get the word out on their work.
Rebecca Snyder sold T-shirts to benefit Meals for Hope – Kids Against Hunger, the charitable group that packages nutritious meals for the needy by the tens of thousands. Manatee Elementary School assistant principal Pam Vickaryous brought a group from her school, to raise awareness of their fundraising efforts. A group from the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Foundation, including Sal Soldano, raised funds for the Jerry Adams Cancer Fund, to help the family of a stricken firefighter.
There were plenty of items available to purchase, too. Ivan Botero and Johan Rios sold a selection of wooden carvings, made in Vietnam out of wood from the Philippines. They offered a P-38 Lighting fighter plane, and a Cobra helicopter gunship, along with muscle cars, motorcycles and corporate jets.
Juliana Lourdes sold “floozies” for $45, sort of a scarf made from scraps of fabric. Larry Clarke’s “Pursonality” booth had leather handbags of all sorts. He competed with the “Bags! Bags! Bags!” booth nearby.
Watkins Apothecary, with the appearance of an old medicinal elixir vendor, has been in business for 147 years, said head apothecary Ernie Tavares.
“It smells nice, but I get stuff like this building up on my shelves,” said Roger Lundin, setting down the bottle of lotion and moving on.
Speaking of moving on, the club’s next big event, said Stephanides, will be the Seafood Festival on the weekend of March 24 and 25, with special musical guest the Landsharks, the Jimmy Buffett tribute band that made a hit here at the Beach Music Festival.