Jim Kaighin, of Marsh Harbour in the Bahamas, may have had more trouble getting to Marco Island than winning his fifth straight title in the 11th Annual Midwinter RC Laser Championship Regatta on Sunday at Mackle Park. His flight was delayed nearly three hours on Friday due to heavy rain in the Bahamas. By the time he had gotten to the championship he had missed a race and was automatically placed 10th in that heat result.
They called it “The Festival on Marco,” and for three days, the event benefitting the Greater Marco Family YMCA turned Veterans’ Community Park into a carnival. Blessed by glorious weather, couples, families and groups of teenagers roamed the midway, trying the games of skill or chance, enjoying the rides and eating foods such as cotton candy their dentist would never approve. Andrew Myers beat his parents at the water pistol shooting range, and took home a plush $100 bill pillow.
It’s almost unthinkable but true. Many of the children from Immokalee who came to Hideaway Beach on Wednesday for Buddy Day, the 21st year the program has run, have never been to the beach, never seen the Gulf, despite having lived in Southwest Florida all their lives. Giving the youngsters that experience, and the chance to see, to quote Disney’s ‘Aladdin,’ a whole new world, was the impetus for the program. This year, more second graders than ever before, about 170, showed up at Hideaway Beach Club’s picnic grove on the northwest corner of Marco Island. Each “little buddy” was paired with an adult volunteer, a “big buddy,” who helped facilitate his or her buddy’s day at the beach.
Saturday morning, the Marco Island Yacht Club held their annual Presentation and Blessing of the Fleet ceremony, with a baker’s dozen of the club’s vessels passing in review before their officers, and receiving the blessing of the chaplain. The MIYC bridge, those of them in attendance, broke out their dress whites and snappy nautical caps, and saluted as the boats passed, carrying on a centuries-old tradition.
As the sun peeks over the horizon, Veterans Park is a beehive of activity. Starting in the predawn darkness, a section of the park is transformed from an open strip of well-beaten grass into a once-a-week retail emporium and food court, with nearly 90 different vendors hawking their wares. They erect their canopies, set up folding tables, open box after box of vegetables, flowers, bagels and jars of honey, arrange the merchandise into tempting displays, move their vehicles out of what will soon become a pedestrian mall, sneak a sip of coffee, set out their cashbox to make change, and await the customers as the sun comes up.
Each month, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce holds an “After Five” get-together, a chance for chamber members, supporters and the curious to meet, mingle and socialize in a different, pleasant location, with a buffet provided and adult beverages available. The After Five events also give host businesses the chance to introduce their services to Marco’s business leaders. Wednesday evening, Chop 239 put their “best food forward” and sponsored an After Five.
Wet Paint Live, sponsored by the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and their Leadership Marco program, combines painting “en plein air” and fundraising. Participating artists choose a spot, put up their easel, and create a painting in one day from start to finish. The resulting works are signed, framed, and delivered to the Rose History Auditorium for sale to the highest bidder. This was the seventh annual outing for the Wet Paint Live event.
The Marco Island Center for the Arts was “in the black” Sunday evening. Approximately 300 members and supporters jammed the ballroom at the Island Country Club for the Art Center’s annual gala, titled “Rhapsody in Black” and featuring a Roaring 20s theme.
Music lovers who wanted to hear some live picking and reconnect with the old Florida had two distinct choices over the weekend. They could join 50,000 others heading down to the Everglades Seafood Festival in Everglades City, taking the chance of backing up for miles on State Road 29, and hear country bands in a sea of beer and bikers.
Ken Mitchell really wants to sell his “pad,” a waterfront home on Laurel Court. So, to entice Realtors and interested buyers to come to his open house Thursday afternoon, he and his wife Linda sweetened the deal with the chance to win door prizes including two iPad Minis.
Hundreds of guests got to try some savory soups, and restaurants got to expose new customers to their wares, at the second annual “Souper Bowl” event at Mackle Park. Held on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, the fundraiser for the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Marco scholarship fund provided more fun and excitement than the one-sided snoozefest the football game turned out to be.
The “Gentleman’s Scotch Dinner (with the Ladies)” held Wednesday evening at Kurrents restaurant in the Marriott was dedicated to pairing Scotch whisky, primarily single malts, with appropriate food items to create a gourmet dining experience and perhaps, in the long run, build awareness and sales for Chivas Bros. distilleries and their Glenlivet brands. But for many, even dedicated drinkers of the Highlands’ distilled essence, Scotch is typically downed before the meal, which is then accompanied by wine. That is, if further alcohol is desired, and to be fair and accurate, it generally is.
Like everyone else, the Marriott wants to be understood. In this case, what they want understood is just what the plans are for the hotel’s proposed redevelopment, to counter what Marco Island Marriott Beach Resort, Golf Club & Spa general manager Rick Medwedeff called “rumors and misinformation” he said abounds in the community and the media.
Saturday morning, everyone on the Isles of Capri was buying, or selling, or both. The normally quiet residential streets of the waterfront community teemed with minivans and pickup trucks as once again, the annual Capri Yard Sale turned Marco’s cross-bridge suburb into one gigantic swap shop.
Argh matey, Saturday, Jan. 25 was picture perfect for The Marco Island Historical Museum’s Second Annual Pirate Day. Parents, grandparents, babies, toddlers and kids strolled the grounds in search of fun and treasure. Eight pirate-themed activities ranged from making paper parrots and make believe hooks to face painting and knot tying. The two most popular events, however, were the face painting and walking the plank to the treasure chest.
Kathleen Passidomo is an instigator. At the 2014 Installation Celebration for the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors, Sunday evening at the Hideaway Beach Club, Passidomo, State Representative for District 106, which includes Marco Island, performed a dual, or rather a triple role. She was a member of the 2013 graduating class of Leadership Marco, and performed the induction ceremony for the chamber’s new executive committee and board of directors.
For the first “After Five” of the new year, and the last of chamber president Nancy Carrington’s tenure, the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce met at Petit Soleil in the Shops of Olde Marco. The chamber held a “ribbon cutting” for this seven-days-a-week breakfast and lunch bistro, launched by Denis and Lisa Meurgue to fill the idle hours left them between operating the nearby Bistro Soleil, and manning their booth at the Farmers’ Market on Wednesday.
Jack Wert, executive director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau came to the island at the invitation of the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce Tuesday evening, to present a tourism update. The audience who came to view the presentation, not quite two dozen unless you count Jack, would have filled your average conference room to overflowing, but left plenty of room in the Rose History Auditorium at the Marco Island History Museum.
The term “pig” used to be an epithet hurled at police officers, before they embraced it and made it a badge of honor. The Marco Island Police Foundation has sponsored pig roasts, cooking whole hogs, and Saturday afternoon, they held the third annual MIPF Rib Cook-off at the Marco Island Brewery, with proceeds benefiting the organization’s scholarship fund.