View from the top: Islanders get high above Marco for fireworks fundraiser

Islanders went to new heights Thursday evening to raise money for Fourth of July fireworks. Twenty-five stories up, a fundraiser was held in the penthouse at the Belize condominium in Cape Marco.

With the City Council having agreed to match private contributions to pay the $40,000 tab, at least $20,000 is needed for this year’s display – and then there’s next year.

“We’re almost there for this year, and we want to raise enough to get ahead,” said Keith Dameron, one of the organizers of the effort. The need to hold an event to raise money dovetailed neatly with the desire to expose a spectacular piece of real estate to potential buyers and get the word out.

Sal and Yvonne Balsamo own the penthouse atop the Belize, with over 13,500 square feet under air, and sweeping views in every direction. They bought it pre-construction in 2005 as investment property, and probably didn’t think they would be holding it this long. Ironically, they live in the penthouse at the adjoining Cozumel condo, so they get a close up view whenever they look out the window.

The Balsamos covered all the expenses for the fundraiser, including the wines, the passed hors d’oeuvres, and the three piece combo, the Stacey Allison trio. This allowed all proceeds raised to go directly to pay for fireworks.

Scott Campbell of Physicians Regional Medical Center got the fundraising ball rolling with a $3,000 contribution, which along with the center underwriting the performance of the Landsharks at the Marco Island Seafood Festival, served notice Physicians Regional intends to be a major player in local philanthropic endeavors.

As the guests looked out over the water, with views all the way down to Cape Romano, perhaps not quite all the way to Mexico, and back along the beach and the island itself, a Coast Guard helicopter flew over – actually, not over, but at eye level, from the 25th floor – and headed down Snook Channel to the 10,000 Islands. Dameron stopped the musc, and with some amount of difficulty, got the guests to hold still for brief announcements. The Balsamos thanked everyone for coming, and “Dameron reminded everyone they were not there just for the views, imploring them to fill out and return the pledge cards they were given.

The guests mingled, gawked, and wandered through the massive apartment. With five bedrooms, six-plus bathrooms, six balconies and a gazebo, sauna, fitness, theatre, and maid’s quarters with separate entry, the home could be yours for just $11,900,000. If you can negotiate the price down by twenty grand, consider putting the savings toward future fireworks displays. You’ll be able to look down at them from above.

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Comments » 1

RayNetherwood writes:

There's always a killjoy ... somewhere.

I commend the event hosts and the organizers who are trying to cobble together money for the 4th of July. Fireworks have been a traditional way to celebrate the birth of our Nation.

But, with the passage of time, things change, and maybe this should be the last year that Marco Island celebrates with fireworks. Like candles on Christmas trees, and buggy whips, times have changed and we (collectively) advance and move in different directions.

The fireworks probably come from China, and while fun to watch and listen to (depending on one's location), they are a one time, expendable, use 'em up and they're gone expense. So, we get to set off car alarms and probably scare a few birds to death with the bangs, choke some more birds (and people) with all the gunpowder smoke, and then have the debris rain down on our beaches and into the homes of the sea creatures we otherwise claim should be afforded protection from senseless pollution. At the end of the day, it may be a show, but it's also senseless pollution.

Maybe the City of Marco Island, this group of well intentioned folks, and the hotels on Cresent Beach could purchase some laser-light equipment and sound systems that could be stretched out in two or three spots along the beach, and do a controlled 20 or 30 minute sound and light show (on July 4th and maybe a couple other times a year).

Sadly, the equipment would probably still come from China, but it would be durable ... hopefully with a life of 10 to 15 years, and all of the "problems" associated with fireworks are eliminated (provided a sane person controls the volume knobs).

As forward looking and environmentally concerned some Marco Island citizens profess to be, maybe this is an idea whose time has come.

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