Marco Island’s community celebration of the Fourth of July is two stories, or one story in two chapters. First, there’s the daytime beach party, Uncle Sam’s Sand Jam at Residents’ Beach, put on by the Marco Island Civic Association, with help from Lola Dial of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Act two comes after dark, when the professional fireworks are fired off from a barge anchored offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, augmented by more than a few amateur pyrotechnic displays launched from the beach itself.
Everglades City got a jump on the rest of the country Saturday, beating them to the punch with their Independence Day celebrations. The festivities have a distinct small town flavor, with little of the glitz seen in larger metropolitan blowouts. This is a celebration of the natives, by the natives and for the natives.
The Little Bar in Goodland hosted Spammy Jammy 2013 Saturday night. The band played all night for the quintessentially Goodland festival that marks the summer closing of the Little Bar, and supposedly keeps Southwest Florida safe from storms.
When she first saw Goodland as a teenager, Tara O’Neill said she thought it was “the most exotic, tropic, Swiss Family Robinson place I’d ever seen.” Despite being forbidden to go there by her mother, she went, and her love affair with the fishing village continues to this day. For the past three months, she has had a one-woman show of her Goodland-centered paintings, entitled “A Villager’s View,” on display at the Marco Island Historical Museum, and on Friday, before the show is taken down, she gave a talk there, on art, and Goodland, and how she combined the two.
Avery McCaskill didn’t attend the golf tournament held for her. She’s only three years old, not much of a golfer, and besides, she needed to keep her strength for the after-party at Rookies. Rookies Bar & Grill sponsored the tournament on Sunday at the Lely Mustang Golf Club to benefit Avery, who is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Bobby Gideons had a lot of friends. The longtime Marco-area entertainer was honored Sunday evening in just the way he would have wanted a jam session where many of his musical collaborators played the songs he loved, told stories, and had a great time.
Many hands made quick work of the litter along a long stretch of Marco’s beach Sunday morning. Those hands, swathed in disposable just not at the beach plastic gloves donated by Publix, along with collection bags and bottled water, or in sturdy gardening gloves brought from home by the veteran beach cleanup volunteers, belonged to 60 concerned citizens of all ages. The cleaning crew mustered at the South Beach public access point before 8 a.m., and fanned out to the north and south. This is a wonderful time to get out on the beach on any nice morning, and knowing you are walking with a purpose, leaving the beach better than you found it just adds to the experience.
The girls traveled a great distance to get some sewing instruction and not just in miles. Five young ladies, with their two chaperones, came down from their homes in Athens, Georgia, to the Goodland home of Donna and James Inglis, as part of the Young Designers Sewing Program. The girls, all black, from the lower end of the socio-economic stratum and considered “at-risk,” came and stayed with the Inglises, spending three days and nights in Goodland, getting intensive instruction not only in sewing, but also cooking, deportment, and even fishing.
With speeches, songs, flags, and uniforms, Marco Island came together Monday to honor those who gave their lives in the nation’s armed conflicts. Several hundred gathered at Veterans’ Community Park under a blue sky dotted with white clouds to honor members of the military who never came home from foreign wars, led by those who did come home. Jim Lang, Commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #6370, served as master of ceremonies, and the VFW provided the color guard for the event. That was led by Lee Henderson, “Colonel Henderson” from his position as head of the Marco Civil Air Patrol, who will be the next post commander for the VFW.
he Barbecue on the Bay, held annually as the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce’s May “After Five” social gathering, serves as the quasi-official end of season marker on the island. Area businesspeople and merchants have been going flat out for months, and with the snowbirds largely flown to their northern coops, this is the chance for locals to relax and unwind. So on Wednesday afternoon, Chamber members and supporters gathered at CJ’s on the Bay to catch up with their counterparts, and enjoy picnic food, perhaps along with an adult beverage. But the highlight of the affair focused on the younger generation.
The art scene on Marco Island got a lot brighter this weekend. Specifically, the headquarters building of the Marco Island Center for the Arts received a makeover Saturday, with volunteers applying a splashy multi-colored paint job on the formerly white building. Over two dozen volunteers came out to lend their support, their brushes and rollers, transforming the plain vanilla gallery on Winterberry Drive to a tutti frutti palette of colors reminiscent of Italian ceramics.
The Four Diamonds that the “Three A’s” awarded to the Marco Hilton made Mac Chaudhry one happy manager. AAA, the American Automobile Association, presented a plaque to Chaudhry and the senior staff of the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort & Spa on Wednesday afternoon, recognizing the hotel for earning, once again, the coveted “Four Diamond” status in the annual AAA ratings. In a ceremony at the hotel attended by almost two dozen of the Hilton’s managers, from white-toqued chefs to spa director Rachel Coleman, Chaudhry credited his employees with the win.