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Despite imminent threats of thunderstorms and occasional rain and limited publicity, some 300-400 Marcoites were treated to an outstanding free concert under the stars at Veterans’ Community Park in honor of Marco Island’s 50th anniversary. What a day it was!

There were games for the kids during the day, two outstanding bands at night, Little

Eddie and the Fatfingers, the Beatles-inspired Nowhere Band, and Jimmy Long providing a great musical interlude between the groups. This outstanding entertainment was ably backed-up by our very own DJ, Steve Reynolds.

There were numerous food and beverage vendors, including non-profits raising funds through the sale of beverages.

The naysayers said it couldn’t be done because Marco Islanders would not come out for an event where they could enjoy music under the stars, food and beverage, and yet another night in our piece of paradise. What we learned was that the potential for Veterans’ Community Park, as envisioned from the time the community voted to purchase the former Glon property, could indeed be a reality. The citizens of Marco clearly favor using an expensive (almost $900,000/year in debt service) and little-used (aside from the very popular farmers market and a few special events such as the Seafood Festival) property we own and hopefully, would like to see more in the future.

This night would not have happened were it not for the persistence of the Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee, chairman Dr. Gerald Swiacki, and committee members Delores Siegel, Val Simon, Rich Lutz, Dr. Carlos Portu, Litha Berger, and Michael Levine and the diligence of the city’s very own special events coordinator, Samantha Malloy. The PRAC group took it upon themselves to solicit financial support for the event, the main sponsor, Integrity First Bank, who led the way, along with a number of other members of our business community.

Numerous other volunteers from Kiwanis, Knights of Columbus, and other community groups provided the set-up and cleanup manpower. It was truly a community event.

There were very few negatives but in light of the on-going controversy over the future of Veterans’ Community Park they are worth mentioning. The portable restrooms at the park are, quite frankly, an embarrassment; the lack of adequate lighting is an obvious safety issue, and the limited parking is a problem as well.

Many of our citizens stopped me to thank me for encouraging this event but I do not deserve the praise. PRAC and the many volunteers are most deserving of the recognition, and I apologize for not naming everyone involved.

There is a lesson to be learned from this experience, not only is it clear that the Marco Island community welcomes events like we had on Saturday, but it is also incumbent upon our community to support the necessary improvements to the park so that we can truly maximize the significant investment that we, the citizens of Marco, have paid for.

My sincere thanks to our community and both those involved in the planning and the work, as well as the hundreds who ignored the threats of rain to come out for a most enjoyable day and evening!

Reach Larry Sacher at his city email address,

More information

Parks advisory committee public hearing on future of Veterans’ Community Park, Dec. 1, city council chambers, City Hall.

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