My goodness, isn’t the year going by quickly? I can’t believe it is almost Easter and soon our winter residents will be leaving, which means a huge portion of our volunteers will be leaving. These people come down from up north, roll up their sleeves and pitch in where they are needed.
Another thing we will notice is all the fun and activities, parties, fundraisers, events, plays and entertainment will scale down to a minimum until next fall when our winter residents return.
This year has been a good year for all. Many of our unemployed workforce has gone back to work, business has been better than it has been in, well, I bet five years. Tourism revenues are up, foreclosures are coming down, and home sales are improving. Hopefully our summer weather will be kind to us so we can relax a little before we start gearing up for the beginning of a new and successful season.
• A huge thank you to Christopher and Jim Shucart! They are the developers who have upgraded and improved the appearance of the Hitching Post Shopping Center, and they have now started the process to install the new traffic light at Hitching Post and Eagle Lakes Community Park.
I was ever so pleased to sit in on a meeting regarding the landscaping of U.S. 41 East where they have to tear out some of the median to carve turning lanes on each side approaching the traffic light. I was concerned that the landscaping might not fit in, but that isn’t the case. They are planning on extending our wonderful, grassy landscaping with plants and foxtail palms. They will be taking all of the dead landscaping out and replacing them. They are working closely with the Collier County transportation department so that everything meets specs. I was truly impressed with how willing the Shucarts were to work with us. Thanks! You’re the best!
In case there is any confusion, there are two traffic lights being installed on U.S. 41 East. This is one, and the other is being paid for by the Lennar Homes/Treviso Bay people at the intersection of Southwest Boulevard and Whistler’s Cove.
• A lady named Tinka, whom I met a couple years ago at the Sugden Community Theatre — we have season tickets for the same night in the same row — and I have become friends. She suggested that I add my e-mail address to each column in case someone would want to reach me to ask a question or show support. Thanks Tinka! I will add it at the end from here on out.
• Here’s a piece of good news I just received from the GreenLinks Golf Villas at Lely Resort: Sam Snead’s Oak Grill and Tavern at Lely Resort, adjacent to GreenLinks, has opened. The restaurant was previously known as the Flamingo Island Grill. Their daily hours of operation are from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Happy hours are 2 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m., offering wine and a full bar. They are now accepting reservations by calling 793-6623.
• The Taste of Chicago has opened on the corner of Airport-Pulling Road and Davis Boulevard. I tried to get in to see what it looks like a couple of times but there were so many cars I couldn’t even drive into the parking lot. It looks like a really good start. Of course there are always beginning bugs to work out, but I’m sure they’ll figure them out quickly. I heard that their hamburgers were terrific. Gosh, we’ve needed restaurants out here in East Naples. Finally they are finding us and we’re happy that they have. Come on steakhouse! Come on Dairy Queen! We’re waiting for you too.
• The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Naples was the biggest I’ve ever seen! The crowds looked almost like Times Square, and the parade just kept on coming with marvelous floats, delightful music, wonderful costumes and happiness everywhere! I was a part of my own little entry into the parade with Carl Waltman driving his gorgeous red 2006 Mustang that has never seen a speck of dust in its life, and his granddaughter Alyssa Rausch and her friend Alexis Risch passing out Tootsie Pops to the kids.
Tom Walsh looked just like a leprechaun in all his Irish finery, driving his 1949 dark green Jeepster. Ron and Sue Cummings and Maureen Drum brought a huge escort — a giant stuffed bear all dressed in his finest green costume. Alan Wittenauer, our parade captain, made sure everything was organized and ran perfectly. His mom, Sally, cheered us on.
We were lucky enough to be in front of the East Naples Civic Association’s rainbow float. Their crew included President Chris Hagan, Angie and Leo Davis, Nancy Markham, Carol Fries, Bob and Loretta Murray, George and Sally Danz, Mike Russo, Neil Curley, Maxine and Bill Nix, Jeff Macasevich, Greg Speers and Suzanne Bogard. You couldn’t ask for a better crew!
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Connect with Donna Fiala at firstname.lastname@example.org.