Turning 20 is a big deal; the turbulent teenage years are in the past and the road to becoming a “real adult” (i.e. finally being able to drink at family functions) is closer than ever before. On Monday, the City of Marco will celebrate this milestone birthday, and in true 20-something style, there will be a week's worth of parties leading up to the actual birthday.

On August 28, 1997, Marco Island became a city by a margin of just 142 votes. Just over 51 percent, or 3,221 of the 6,523 ballots cast, voted yes, while 3,079 were opposed, according to previous reporting.

It was the sixth time since 1980 the issue came before the voters, and it gained more popularity with each passing election. The 1997 incorporation was also the second time the island become a city, having briefly been incorporated as Collier City in 1927.

When city officials realized the 20th anniversary was quickly approaching, they knew they had to do something to mark the occasion. 

"Laura Litzan (the city clerk) came up to me one day and said, 'Hey, did you know we're going on our 20th anniversary?' So we thought we should do just a little something to celebrate," Samantha Malloy, the Parks and Recreation Department's community events coordinator, said. 

So she began reaching out to various organizations around the island and soon there was an entire week of special events.

"We met a couple of times just to determine who wanted what day, and since the actual incorporation was on Aug. 28, I requested that day for the city," Malloy said. "From there everyone decided what they wanted to do on their own day. The only thing we really coordinated was having all of the events at the same time throughout the week so it's easy for people to remember."

The week-long celebration begins at 4 p.m. today at the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce, which is celebrating its own 40th anniversary.

"We are very excited to be the first of the Island's organizations to kick off the City's 20th Anniversary week-long celebration," Dianna Dohm, the chamber's executive director, said. "It has been a long time since our members and the local community have visited the Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center ... if ever. We're hoping the community comes to our open house and see all we have to offer."

The open house will include a beer and wine cash bar along with light appetizers sponsored by the SpeakEasy and The Print Shop and More, Dohm said.

Other groups and organizations hosting special events throughout the week include the local schools, the Marco Island Center for the Arts, the Y and the Marco Island Historical Museum. The week's grand finale is a party at the Marco Island city government campus.

"All departments are going to be involved, including utilities, fire and police, and public works," Malloy said. "We're going to host something outside with hot dogs, chips and soda. It should be a fun way to bring the community together and celebrate the island becoming a city."


When: 4 - 6 p.m.

Where: Tuesday, Marco Island Area Chamber of Commerce; Wednesday, Marco Island Charter Middle School; Thursday, Marco Island Center for the Arts; Friday, Greater Marco Family YMCA; Saturday, Marco Island Historical Museum; Monday, Marco Island government campus.


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