Christmas has gone to the dogs. And the dogs have gone strolling down the “catwalk.” Over 75 costumed canines took their turn on the red carpet Tuesday evening, during the Christmas Island Style Canine Christmas Parade at the Esplanade. The official judges, Wanda Day, Nellie Adams, and Neil Snyder, sat with notepads and wine glasses at hand, as emcee Stan Niemczyk called out the entrants and event organizer Wayne Purvis plus hundreds of spectators gathered round.
Santa has a new ride. Unlike years past, when he has dropped from the sky via helicopter for his annual visit to the Shops of Marco, he showed up Friday evening in a shiny red sleigh that was actually the Tower 50 extension ladder truck of the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department. He was accompanied by Mrs. Claus, long-suffering as always behind every successful global entrepreneur is a partner, smiling, waving and baking cookies elves, and his own security detail, headed up by Carmen Dasti.
Marco Island made it official Saturday evening. A crowd filled Veterans’ Community Park on a beautiful night, chowing down with friends and families at some football-style tailgate parties, took in some homegrown entertainment at the Christmas Island Style Tree Lighting Ceremony and then counted down as the switch was flipped on the tree.
Clean out the refrigerator to pack in fresh fruits and vegetables. The Farmers’ Market is open for the 2013-14 season. Wednesday, Marco Island’s Veterans’ Community Park became a veritable Campo de’ Fiori, one of Rome’s favorite marketplaces. Produce, flowers, artwork, fresh baked goods, prepared food and specialty items lined corridors with more than 120 booths of delicious goodness.
Breakfast with birds at Collier County’s Tigertail Beach on Marco Island might conjure up a huddled group of diners deluged by hovering, cawing seagulls. On Saturday, nothing was further from the truth. Those attending “Breakfast and Birds” munched muffins and doughnuts on wooden benches in the park’s rustic and sheltered pavilion. Organizers from the Friends of Tigertail urged participants to BYOB (bring your own breakfast). The meal was followed by an education session and a stroll along Tigertail’s lagoon.
Laydeeez and gentlemen! Coming to Marco Island, a premier primetime presentation of the pugilistic arts, featuring courageous combatants, local lads Rob “the Macedonian Mauler” Popoff and Jimmy “the Irish Assassin” Downey, augmented by an international bevy of bouts by accomplished amateur antagonists. They really are going to duke it out. “I figure, a lot of people on this island would like to see me get punched,” said Rob Popoff, going back to his days as a city councilman. He was in office for the contentious debates over the establishment of the island’s sewer program, so getting into the boxing ring should seem less scary.
Hundreds thronged Mackle Park Saturday afternoon for the annual Halloween Spooktacular. A quick look around showed the sort of sights and creatures you can’t usually see unless you first slug down a pint of Old Overcoat. Zombies, mutants, pirates, Death himself complete with scythe, wandered under and around the “air-nasium” at the park, rubbing elbows with astronauts, superheroes and lots of little princesses. But the kids were so cute, it was hard to imagine them as scary. Lola Green, age five, had too fetching a smile to make a convincing vampire, and Lauren Johnson’s Cheshire Cat makeup had her grinning no matter what she felt like.
For a new school such as Marco Island Academy, there are many firsts and milestones, as they build their traditions. Friday night, MIA notched another, as they held their first homecoming with an actual senior class. The football game Friday evening at Winterberry Park, with the crowning of the Homecoming King and Queen at halftime, capped a week of fun activities at the school. Each day, they dressed in silly outfits, with “Pajama Monday,” “Wacky Tacky Day,” and “Throwback Thursday” to wear 80’s outfits their parents might have donned for real.
Many of Marco Island’s movers and shakers moved the off the island en masse Wednesday evening for “October After Five,” the regular monthly social of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce. This month’s event took place at Erin’s Isle, in its new location inside the Hibiscus Country Club off Rattlesnake Hammock Road.
Marco Island resident and customer service manager of Marco Island Utilities, Jim Lang, presented a program about water conservation at the Oct. 14 meeting of the Calusa Garden Club. Lang’s talk provided tips for finding water leaks and solving potential problems before they happen. Prior to the program, the garden club met for the first time this season. Lindy Kowalczyk led an optional floral design workshop with the designs being displayed during the business meeting.
They called it the “Family 5k.” The footrace organized by the Kiwanis Club of Marco Island on Saturday morning was designed to be family-friendly. Starting and ending at the county’s Tigertail Beach Park, and running through the uncluttered, tree-shaded streets of Hideaway Beach, the event attracted a significant number of moms pushing high-tech roadworthy running strollers, as well as young kids completing the course on their scooters.
They came, they tasted, they voted. Over 300 paying customers, either chili lovers, fire department supporters, or both, showed up Saturday afternoon at the Esplanade for the “First Annual Jerry Adams Chili Cook-Off,” to benefit the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Foundation.
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, the bingo sharks came back to the JCMI on Monday, in such numbers that kitchen boss Bernie Seidman had to make an emergency run for more hotdog buns. Supper is the first order of business on bingo nights, with hotdogs kosher of course sauerkraut, chips, and pickles, followed at intermission by cake and cookies along with coffee.
Tuesday evening, The Marco Island Center for the Arts bade farewell again to former executive director Lynn Holley, who returned from California just for the event, and rhapsodized on the delights of sleeping on a pullout sofabed while she gets situated in her new locale. And the center brought up the curtain on new exhibits, including the sky-themed “Sunrise, Sunset” show that had people humming the tune from “Fiddler on the Roof,” and a second show in La Petite Galerie showcasing artwork by clients of the Shelter for Abused Women and Children.
Paul Boland came to the Island Country Club from Lely Resort, by way of New England. The new head golf professional at Island Country Club is no stranger to the area, and returning to Southwest Florida was a homecoming.
Marco resident Christopher De Beers has set his sights high, and he is closing in on attaining his goal. The 38-year-old is systematically climbing the highest peaks on each of the world’s continents, and he has summited all of them except one.
There was a strong Marco presence at Rookery Bay’s Environmental Learning Center (ELC) on Saturday for the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve’s celebration of Estuaries Day. This is appropriate, with the 100,000 acres under management by Rookery Bay surrounding Marco on all sides, and the ecological stewardship the Reserve provides of critical importance on this barrier island.
Pets, no doubt, are a blessing to their owners. And on Tuesday evening, some of those pets had the favor returned. As he has for eight years, ever since taking the helm at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Father Kyle Bennett celebrated the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi with the Blessing of the Animals, celebrating and polishing the haloes of about 50 furry, finned or scaly friends, who showed up with their human companions to be blessed.
It was a birthday party for a five-year-old, but the guests were doing more than a little drinking. CJ’s on the Bay celebrated five years on Marco Island on Sunday afternoon, with a party around the outside bar in the courtyard at their Esplanade location on Smokehouse Bay. Curt Koon, the “C” of CJ’s, gleefully poured a five-gallon bucket of ice into the dunk tank above which Nick Catudal sat poised, forgetting perhaps that he was scheduled for his own turn in the “cold seat” later on.
Saturday, over 50 of those volunteers scoured Tigertail Beach, from the tideline in the lagoon, where Art Dobberstein patrolled the mangroves standing up and floating on his paddleboard, to the scrub around the parking lots, where hardcore cleanup veterans like Stan Hutchins collected a pickup truck bedful of debris. And the logs records of just what was found and removed from the beach, as opposed to the baulks of timber which comprise one large component of the junk played a key role in their activities.
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