MARCO ISLAND — At least in a comedy “roast,” the guest of honor can count on living through the experience. This was not the case for the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce annual Pig Roast, held Wednesday evening in conjunction with their May “Business After Five” gathering.
The pig’s goose was cooked, and he became the main course for the chamber members gathering to celebrate making it through another tourist season, and ready to kick back and relax a little. Laura Owen, head chef and general manager of CJ’s on the Bay, which hosted the event, said they put the hog on the cooker early in the morning and cooked all day.
“It’s all about low and slow,” she said, “keeping a nice low temperature.” Chef Nick Donatelli assisted with the process, and both he and Owen cooled off with a Miller Lite, their quaff of choice, as the meat was sent over to the buffet line. There, CJ’s co-owner Curt Koon served up pork, baked beans, coleslaw and corn on the cob, with rolls for those who chose to go the barbecue sandwich route.
The high point of the get-together, though, was the presentation of scholarships to nine high-achieving high school students. One by one, the students, all seniors at Lely High School, were presented with an envelope containing a certificate proclaiming their award, in the amount of $1,000 each.
Once the students enroll at a university – and each of them were announced as attending a specific college – the chamber will send the funds directly to the school, said MIACC director of marketing Katherine O’Hara. The awards are open to all seniors who are Marco residents, and it just happened that all nine attend Lely, she said.
“Now when you see us raising funds, you’ll know where the money goes,” said chamber executive director Sandi Riedemann.
Camille Richie, Marisa Anguilano, Frances Baumler, Vanessa Feola, Kit Fowler, Alexandra Meurgue, Vanessa Grisko, Emma Raistrick, and Alexandra Diaz were the deserving recipients of the scholarships. Each has a list of achievements enough to make you wonder how you slacked off so much and still managed to reach your advanced age.
Frances Baumler will be attending Louisiana State University. She participated in the Swim Team, Marching Band, Cheerleading, Yearbook Staff, Spanish National Honor Society, Art Club, Green Group, Key Club, National Honor Society, Top 100 Club, and won awards for Perfect Attendance, Heart of the Eagle Award, Collier County Athletic Conference, Superintendent Art Award.
Several proud parents of the recipients were on hand, including Al Diaz and Nancy Richie, the City of Marco Island’s environmental specialist. Richie was congratulated by Roy Birkeland, who was seemingly under the impression that Nancy was the high school senior, not the mother of the winner.
Posters at CJ’s touted the next big extravaganza the chamber will be holding there, the 2012 Glory of the Grape celebration, coming up on Sunday, June 10, a “wine tasting with heavy hors d’oeuvres” to raise money for the MIACC’s worthy causes (see above).