MARCO ISLAND — So your out of town guests and relatives have had fun and sun on our beach. They've had music, food and drink at Stan's, the Snook Inn, Little Bar and other hot spots. They've danced at Marco Polo, reveled at Rookies, had dinner and a film at the Marco Movies, admired the ducks and the model sailboat races at Mackle Park and have even visited one or more of our houses of worship.
So now what?
How about a guided tour of Marco's historic and historical highlights, which helps bring alive the island's colorful history, from the Calusa natives to the pioneers, from the Mackles and Deltona to the Veterans Memorial and The Big Flag?
Your guests would get a perspective about Marco that even a lot of full-time residents don't have. We know that because we had the pleasure of being part of a test-run of such tours last spring, when four out-of-town guests came to visit.
Our tour guide was Betsy Perdichizzi, a past president and founding member of the Marco Island Historical Society.
We began with a tour of the Marco Island Historical Museum, including an award-winning video of island history at Rose Auditorium. Other stops around town in the planned tours include the Pioneer Cemetery and the historic Church of God building, Otter Mount Park, Capt. Horr's Plantation, Indian Hill and Veterans Park.
Our guests, savvy travelers who've seen most of the wonders of the world, were enthralled as they soaked up Marco's colorful history.
One of our favorite island historical attractions is Otter Mound Park, located in Old Caxambas, now known as the Estates Area. It features ornamental shell wall terraces made by early Marco resident Ernest Otter, with shells from an ancient Indian mound. Also on the property is what must be one of the oldest outhouses in south Florida.
Betsy brought our historic Marco Cemetery to life, so to speak, with stories about the people interred there as part of the island's history. We then visited the beautifully restored Church of God.
The tours are designed to be especially satisfying for small groups, all hands-on and personal. On the day we had the tour, our guests were fascinated by the Key Marco Cat, crowding around the bigger than life statue of the human-feline figure on the grounds of the museum and Rose Auditorium.
Our friends, who were visiting Marco for the first time, sincerely thought the tour of our island's people, places and events was a thoughtful, interesting and even charming experience. Their comments:
"I had no idea the history of Marco is so rich. It's an amazing place. I learned so much about the people and the challenges that Marco has faced over the years and the resurgence of Marco and its people. It's good to see that so many people here have tremendous pride in Marco.
"The people are so friendly and the word beautiful keeps coming to mind. Betsy's presentation helped me understand how the community developed and the importance of the natural environment here. Why wouldn't everyone want to come to Marco Island?"
Betsy says a training session for anyone wanting to be a volunteer tour guide will be held at 10 a.m., Oct. 25, at the Rose History Auditorium. It will include visits to the historic sites.
If you're interested, contact Betsy Perdichizzi at (239) 394-6917 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. "We'd love to have you," Betsy says.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail email@example.com. Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.