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Steve, Stefanides, Marco, 50th, birthday, anniversary, city, Straight, Talk, Mackle

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This weekend there will be a party of sorts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the community that we all call home. A relatively small group of the community's citizens will come together at the Marco Island Marriott for dinner, speeches and presentations to celebrate that accomplishment.

When one reflects on the vision, commitment, courage and skill in the execution of the plan, you can't help but be in awe of the huge undertaking of the Mackle Brothers and their dreams for Marco Island.

In 1962, they purchased the land that would become modern-day Marco Island from the heirs of Barron Gift Collier for $7 million. For them at the time, it was a pretty hefty sum, but in today's standards it might only get you a condominium at Cape Marco.

If they were to reflect back on their success, I am sure they would refer to the launch of one of the most successful marketing and advertising efforts ever seen in Florida. They opened offices in New England and the Midwest as they sold their vision of the Florida paradise many of us now call our permanent home.

Waterfront homes were listed at just under $20,000 or completed inland homes for under $15,000. They also offered plots for self-development from $2,550 for inland and from $5,495 for waterfront sites.

Their vision included the idea of community, and as such when they laid out the island they took into account the need for many of the amenities we enjoy today. The provision for schools, parks and houses of worship were all part of their plan.

They saw Marco as a place of balance between tourism, recreation, commercial and most importantly, families.

On occasion we debate that vision. Did the Mackles foresee the growth of the island, did they want Marco as just a residential enclave for the retired or did they see it as a growing and vibrant community that looked to balance a number of differing lifestyles?

One would have to believe they wanted to see that balance, where young and old alike could enjoy the beauty of what they saw when they first came across the sand dunes and looked out upon the marvelous beach we continue to stand in awe of today.

What is even more amazing to me is that this all started in 1888 when Frank E. Mackle Sr. immigrated here with his mother and his three brothers from England and eventually ended up in Jacksonville in 1908 after working as a steel worker in Elizabeth, N.J. and later Boston. He would later move his base of operations to Atlanta and begin a prestigious career in construction and development.

The Mackle family is truly a tribute to hard work, dedication and perseverance. Those traits were engrained by their father in the fabric of Frank Mackle Jr., and his brothers, Robert and Elliott, as they would carry on the family's proud tradition and reputation.

Hopefully when the empty wine bottles are discarded, the tablecloths all folded and put away after the birthday party on Friday night, we don't forget that the seeds of this island's creation were carried over to these shores by a young boy who never saw our bit of paradise. He passed on his passion, work ethic and creative juices, along with his love of his adopted country to three sons who had a vision for something we are all pleased to now call home. Marco Island is truly an American dream made possible by a family with the imagination to dream of the possibilities and the courage to execute the plan.

Happy birthday Marco Island !

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