It was a great day to take a walk on the beach. Saturday morning at Tigertail Beach on Marco Island was beautiful, with a mixture of sun and clouds, and a full moon sinking into the Gulf of Mexico. If you could come back with a glow of satisfaction from leaving the environment a little more pristine than you found it, that made the walk even better. A few more people than usual for a July day strolled the beach on Saturday, participating in the Friends of Tigertail’s quarterly beach cleanup day.
As the Survivors’ Lap got under way to kick off the 2013 American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life at noon Saturday, the scene could have been a promo for the movie “The Color Purple.” The cancer survivors wore purple T-shirts as a badge of honor, and they came in all sizes and ages, from 9 “and a half”-year-old Hannah Adams to ladies who were — well, considerably older. The host of purple shirts and the attendant caregivers pointed out that, as survivor co-chair Judy Mayo said before the relay’s start, “cancer touches everybody.” There are few people who have not had a family member or close friend stricken by the disease, so everyone can understand the urgent need to fight the dreaded disease in all its forms.
Sunday afternoon, some of Marco’s fine restaurants turned into sidewalk food vendors for the day, bringing a sampling of their wares out for the Taste of Marco. With sunlight filtered by a parade of puffy clouds, the temperature was a balmy 82 degrees, making a perfect day for strolling the Esplanade, trying the various food offerings, plus a little liquid refreshment, and listening to some live music. The Taste of Marco benefits the Greater Marco Family YMCA, and presumably benefits participating eateries as well, giving customers an easy way to try their food.
This was the third annual Nest Fest for the Marco Eagle Sanctuary Foundation. The organization continues to grow, foundation president Carl Way told the group in his remarks, which blurred the distinction between a social gala and a board meeting. Moving forward, the goal is to build on their success, and expand outside of Marco Island, he said, seeking additional support both in Collier County and at the state level. The Eagle Foundation is working with national and even international groups as well, including the American Bald Eagle Foundation, based in Pigeon Forge, Tenessee where the pigeons presumably provide a good food source for any local eagles and Hancock Wildlife in British Columbia and the state of Washington.
The headquarters for Marco Island Utilities is at the North Water Treatment Plant, behind a chain link fence topped with barbed wire and a remote controlled gate, off of Elkcam Circle. If the expenditures involved in utility operations are massive, it isn’t because the department has built itself a Taj Mahal. Utilities General Manager Jeff Poteet’s office is in a doublewide trailer, one of three within the sprawling complex of tanks, pumps and treatment equipment. The carpet is tattered and mud-stained, with racks of engineering drawings, mismatched furniture and ancient, scuffed chairs around a nondescript table. Marco Island, Poteet explained, has two distinct water sources. The bulk of the water used comes from the Marco Lakes site, a 207 acre facility nine miles north of the island near the corner of U.S. 41 and Collier Blvd., which provides six to eight million gallons per day. This water is fresh, and comes primarily from groundwater infiltration, rainfall that flows into the lakes.
Marco Island has been setting its alarm clocks early on Easter morning for a quarter century. Sunday morning, thousands thronged the beach behind the Madeira condominium and the Marriott hotel for the 25th Anniversary Easter Sunrise Service, trooping down Collier Blvd. in the predawn darkness carrying blankets, beach chairs, and still dozing toddlers. They heard a message of hope and resurrection, mirrored by the sun rising in a beautiful sky behind the stage, with just enough clouds to paint a spectacular display in the east. The principal Easter message, entitled “Would You Believe It?” was delivered by the Rev. Bruce Fiol, who as founding pastor of the Marco Presbyterian Church delivered the sermon on Marco’s first Easter dawn service on the beach, back in 1988.
Both the “egg roll” and the “roll away the stone” aspects of Easter brought thousands of Marco Islanders out for large scale get-togethers over the weekend. The Easter Bunny went to bat first, with the annual Spring Jubilee “eggs-travaganza” held Saturday morning at Mackle Park.
Now in its fifth year, the Seafood and Music Festival has become a Marco tradition, giving islanders the chance to kick back, listen to live music, and perhaps enjoy an adult beverage along with their seafood.
The Friends of Fakahatchee runs an “Island Cruise” during the winter season, but only when the tide is high enough for the boat to get through, to Fakahatchee Island. Departing from the Everglades National Park ranger station between Chokoloskee and Everglades City last Wednesday, the Starfish threaded her way through the bays and narrow passages between the mangrove cays that make up the 10,000 Islands. Twenty-five souls set out, shades of Gilligan, on “a three-hour tour.”
Art was all over the place this weekend at the Marco Island Center for the Arts. The parking lot held a “Fine Crafts,” or fine art and crafts show “Fine crafts fits on the signs better,” said organizer Pam Patullo. Over 30 artists, craftspeople and at least one game maker, hawking a hybrid of golf and badminton, all showed their creations, in a well-attended show on a beautiful day. Inside the building, the Calusa Garden Club displayed their “Asian Fusion” show, with artistic arrangements of plants and flowers inspired by Eastern themes, along with an exhibit of Oriental brush paintings by Marco Island’s own Edythe Newbourne in La Petite Galerie. To round things out, the Clay Guild’s members put on display, and for sale, ceramic works created by the group, within the Arts Center’s headquarters and gallery is located at 1010 Winterberry Drive.
Pamplona may have the Running of the Bulls, but Marco Island has the Derby of the Ducks. Once again, Dottie’s Duck Derby returned to the pool at the Greater Marco Family YMCA on Saturday, offering Islanders the chance to do a little “off track betting” for a good cause. Master of Ceremonies Steve Reynolds presided, despite nursing a nasty sore throat, and the theme song on the sound system was “Disco Duck.”
For people apparently a lot of them who harbored fantasies of being an archaeologist, the lure was irresistible. The call went out for volunteers to assist in the “Big Sift,” culling through material unearthed in ancient Native American middens on Marco Island, and citizens responded by the score. “We had over a hundred people out here the first day,” said Joe Mankowski, supervising the dig on Addison Court. Joseph Mankowski, M.A., RPA, is an archaeologist, and the president of Advanced Archaeology, Inc., of Fort Lauderdale. The Big Sift began on Monday, and will continue through next week, with the volunteer program concluding on March 22.
Once again, Marco got a jump on the rest of the Irish-American world, holding the annual parade one week early. The Sons and Daughters of Erin’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade marched up Bald Eagle Drive on Sunday, and headed right into Veterans’ Community Park, for some entertainment, merchandise, and perhaps a traditional Irish carbonated beverage.