Community picnic takes on a different twist

Ann Hall

Isles of Capri Community Inc. board of directors wanted something new and exciting to offer members of the community and their guests at their annual picnic.

What started as a simple picnic with good food and live music turned into an outdoor dance with fun and frolicking for all ages.

They pulled out all the stops and put on the largest and most festive picnic in the history of the association, according to many long-time residents who had attended most of the past picnics.

“It is so good to see some new young blood in our leadership,” said Betty Moenkhaus, who has been a member longer than most on the Isles.

President Randy Whitson said that he was proud of his board for thinking outside the box and coming up with the idea to move the picnic to the center of the business isle instead of in the little parking lot and building that sits on two 25-foot-wide by 110-foot-deep lots.

Jason King, grandson of Beverly Whealy, tries on a real firefighter’s hat at the picnic and learns from the firefighters that their equipment is heavy.

Not only was the move an important one, but the food served and the way in which it was dispensed was just short of a miracle. Three island restaurants (Pelican Bend, Island Gypsy, and Uncle Mickey’s) worked together to provide delicious pork and lobster sliders and Italian subs. Guests purchased food tickets for $5 each and selected the picnic spread of their choice.

In just 22 minutes, all present (estimated to be close to 400) had their food and were comfortably nestled in their chairs, on golf carts, or on pallets in front of the band to be entertained by Big Buck and The Biscuit Boys.

The community picnic draw hundreds of residents and their guests to enjoy a day of fun and good food.

There were field games for the children to play, and the GNF Station 90 (Isles of Capri) had a truck with firefighters and paramedics on hand to reassure safety for the participants, and to allow the children to see a fire truck, wear a fireman’s helmet, and learn about fire and emergency services first-hand from a real crew.

Many folks came on golf carts and parked them around the roped-off picnic area much like a tail gate party at a NASCAR race or football game. Some had their dogs join them.

Christopher Mercier (a station 90 firefighter), his brother, Dan, and good friend Justin Suzarra set up an ornamental rug, and then stationed a fire pit out in the grass to provide atmosphere, warmth and a deterrent to any uninvited mosquitoes that might happen along.

The 2016 Capri Community Inc. board of directors is recognized for organizing and hosting the largest picnic the community organization has ever had. From left, back row: Randy Whitson, president, Beau Middlebrook, Gary Goetzelman, Joel Fitzjarrald, and John Cowden. Front row: Kelly Sprigg holding baby Ruby Sprigg, Joyce Beatty, Amanda Ray and Laura Mikula.

The 50/50 raffle sent Joanne McCloskey, a part-time resident of Capri, running to the bandstand to collect on her winning ticket, approximately $250. The music had loads of guests running to the “dance floor” (grassy area in front of the band stand) to dance to their favorite tunes.

What seemed to separate this year’s picnic from years past was that it was held in February instead of March, and later in the day, and most attendees stayed until the last minute before closing. Guests lingered and talked among themselves about how much fun they had, and complimented the workers who were cleaning up for a job well done.

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