Coastal Breeze News » Everglades City Sat, 19 Apr 2014 13:03:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Movies in the Everglades Mon, 24 Feb 2014 23:17:44 +0000 KC-Schulberg-001-Photo-by-Randall-Kenneth-Jones

K.C. Shulberg with a photo of his father and uncle on the set of “Wind Across the Everglades”

K.C. Shulberg remembers when his dad Stuart and uncle Bud were making their celebrated film “Wind Across the Everglades” (Warner Brothers, 1958) starring Burl Ives, Gypsy Rose Lee, and a young Christopher Plummer.

The area and ambiance left a lasting impression on him, inspiring him to now plan a new film in southwest Florida. On Friday, February 28, at 5:30 p.m. he will recall memories and stories of the movie industry from his youth before showing clips from his upcoming project in the Jinkins Fellowship Hall behind Everglades Community Church (102 Copeland Avenue South, Everglades City, FL, 34139).

His presentation will be followed by a screening of the full-length “Wind Across the Everglades”.

The event is hosted by the Everglades Society for Historic Preservation. It is free and open to the public but reservations are required. For information and to book your places, email or call Marya at (239) 695-2905.




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First Woman Completes Saltwater Paddling Trail Mon, 24 Feb 2014 23:01:22 +0000 31-year-old Jodi Eller of St. Augustine, Florida became the first woman to complete the 1,515-mile Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail that runs from Pensacola to Key West to the Georgia border. Eller paddled most of the trail in 2008 with husband Matt Keene, the first “thru paddler” of the trail and completed the remaining segments in late 2013.

Highlights of Eller’s trip included seeing a black bear cub in a tree along the Crooked River near Carrabelle, island hopping in the Indian River Lagoon and experiencing “perfect water conditions” for her last segment from Flamingo to Everglades City through Everglades National Park.

Eller is the eleventh person to complete the entire Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail since its opening in 2008. Currently, two retired police officers from Charlotte, North Carolina, Marc DeLuca and Jim Windle, are paddling the entire trail. They are more than halfway through their journey. To read about the pairs experience check-out their online blog, or visit for more information on the Florida Circumnavigational Saltwater Paddling Trail.


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Vote Now for America’s Coolest Small Town Sat, 08 Feb 2014 02:16:55 +0000 By Noelle H. Lowery

A young Everglades City fan. file PHOTO

A young Everglades City fan. file PHOTO has put the call out for folks to vote on “America’s Coolest Small Town” in 2014, and Everglades City is in the running. For the next 17 days (through Feb. 25), voters can go online to cast their ballot for one of the 15 small towns listed. The winner wins bragging rights.

Everglades City has some stiff competition, though. There are towns that have been settings for movies; that are historical gems; that are recreation havens; that are part of national parks; that were homes to former U.S. Presidents; and that are culinary delights.

Among the contenders are: Berlin, MD; Elkin, NC; Huntington Woods, MI; Pahoa, HI; Buckhannon, WV; Estes Park, CO; Kelleys Island, OH; Rockport, TX; Cazenovia, NY; Mathews, VA; Travelers Rest, S.C.; Deadwood, S.D.; Galena, IL; Nevada City, CA; and our very own Everglades City. Populations range from 313 (Kelleys Island, OH) to 9,133 (Rockport, TX).

Still, Everglades City has something that none of the other towns do — access to the Ten Thousand Islands of Everglades National Park and to some of the best backwater fishing in the U.S. Combine these elements with the amazing wildlife — both in and out of the water — that thrive in the mangrove estuaries of Everglades City, and it is a shoe-in to win.

So cast your vote now at:,16/#vote-21477. The clock is ticking!


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The Star of the Everglades Its Journey From the 1920s to Today Part 2 Fri, 07 Feb 2014 16:26:51 +0000 COASTAL HISTORY
Craig Woodward

Jim Martin at the helm of the Star of the Everglades (c. 1972).

Jim Martin at the helm of the Star of the Everglades (c. 1972).

In our last issue, the history of the original vessel, the Star (of the Everglades), operated by the Lopez family from Lopez River and Chokoloskee was covered, including its use in hosting several U.S. Presidents, its being part of the classic local film “Wind Across the Everglades,” and its key role in opening up sports fishing for tourists in the Ten Thousand Islands. That boat was retired and replaced by a new vessel, a beautiful yacht with a colorful history. After finishing its service in charter fishing, the new boat was owned and lived on by a number of local residents, who retain great memories of this fabulous yacht which, like the previous one, was aptly named the Star.

In the early 1960s, the original Star left Everglades City for the last time and later returned as the new Star, a vessel still two decks high but now 65 feet long with a beam of 22 feet, a double-planked wood hull, 70 net tons and with a shallow draft drawing only three feet of water. It was ideal for taking sportsmen to the Broad, Lostman’s and Shark rivers. The new vessel had three private staterooms, with two beds, two showers and a full bathtub, a teak-paneled main salon with a fireplace and a bar — perfect for three couples. This Star, unlike the previous one, was air conditioned, had television, a cocktail lounge, a card room and a sundeck for wives who did not care to fish. The brochure of the time said: “In addition to the prized tarpon, commonly ranging up to 100 pounds of fighting dynamite, there are a great variety of other fish to be found; most commonly being the snook and redfish.” Dinner served on board was either fresh fish, stone crabs or steaks and lobster, and also included and served on the large table in the main salon was a full course breakfast and a light lunch. The new 1962 Star brochure said it did not take trips less than four days out of season and suggested a five-day minimum. The advertised price was $280 a day total during season for a party of four and excluded drinks and tackle.

The new Star of the Everglades was a custom-built luxury vessel, completed in 1927 for former Governor of Ohio James M. Cox, who at the time was the owner of the Cox newspaper chain which included the “Miami Daily News.” The vessel had been used in the Miami area to entertain Cox’s business clients and rich friends until around 1961 when Capt. Jim Thompson and his wife Rosina purchased it for their Everglades adventures. Thompson could tow behind the Star up to three small boats with various outboards having horsepower up to 40 hp, giving anglers access into the small creeks and backwater bays while the Star remained anchored at the mouths of the large rivers that drained from the Everglades.

In late 1970, Jim Martin of Marco Island spotted the Star in dry dock at the Turner Boat yard in Naples. It had been pulled for caulking and other maintenance work on the wooden hull. He liked the old style of the boat, saw an opportunity to buy a boat he could live on, and quickly negotiated with Jim Thompson for the purchase. Capt. Jim Thompson had lost interest in the excursion fishing business after his wife Rosina died, and he ended up selling the Star to Jim Martin for $7,500. They made one last trip to Everglades City to offload Thompson’s personal items and the guide boats; the trip back to Naples, according to Martin, was a very emotional trip for Jim Thompson, who had grown much attached to the Star. In a way, many others’ lives would be impacted by this vessel.

The Star sunk near the Goodland Bridge before being salvaged. (c. 1982).

The Star sunk near the Goodland Bridge before being salvaged. (c. 1982).

Martin docked the Star in Naples at Boat Haven, paying dockage of $20 a month and mooring it adjacent to U.S. 41’s Gordon River Bridge. It was in a location that was too shallow for most boats, but the Star, drawing only three feet, could use it. For two years, Jim Martin lived on the boat and would rent rooms out for extra income. He worked at the Marco Beach Hotel, and about once a month, friends would join him on party trips to Little Marco Pass (now Hurricane Pass), all pitching in on fuel. But, even with fuel being 20 cents a gallon, the twin Chryslers 135 hp inboards were gas hogs and expensive to run. The vessel was not easy to operate and required three to four people to get it under way. The boat was also two floors high making it susceptible to winds and, compounding the problem was the weight of the upstairs main lounge made of dark wood of cypress and mahogany, and under the seats, it carried 600-plus pounds of water storage in large copper tanks making the boat a little top-heavy.

Like Jim Webb, who has kept old brochures and photos of the Star, Jim Martin also has sentimental feelings about the Star, and retained numerous photos as well as his documents. Martin examined the official documentation — “Certificate of Enrollment for a U.S. Licensed Yacht” — from the U.S. Treasury Dept., and discovered that the vessel had been built in 1927 in Holly Hill, FL, south of Jacksonville. Martin decided to investigate and drove to north Florida looking at areas on the Halifax River. He found the location of the old boatyard and discovered that the builder was none other than William (Bill) McCoy — whose reputation later coined the phrase “The Real McCoy.” McCoy and his brothers had a great reputation building expensive speedboats and yachts for millionaires like Andrew Carnegie and the Vanderbilts, and, of course, also for the former Ohio Governor Cox for whom the Star was originally built.

During Prohibition, McCoy changed careers and ran whiskey from offshore boats into the eastern seaboard. On a usual trip, it was said he would make $300,000 profit! His profits ended on Nov. 23, 1923, when a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter intercepted McCoy’s vessel in international waters, outside the three-mile U.S. limit. After shooting 4-inch shells over his hull, McCoy surrendered, saying on capture: “I have no tale of woe to tell you. I was outside the three-mile limit, selling whisky, and good whisky, to anyone and everyone who wanted to buy.” He pleaded guilty, served nine months in jail and was soon out and back in the boat business. The phrase “The Real McCoy” originated because he refused to water down his liquor or sell moonshine like his competitors who, in their attempt to gain credibility, would claim their product was also “The Real McCoy.” As a result of McCoy’s capture, the U.S. changed its territorial limit from three miles to 12 miles.

William (Bill) McCoy — “the Real McCoy” — high-end yacht builder and 1920s bootlegger. SUBMITTED PHOTO

William (Bill) McCoy — “the Real McCoy” — high-end yacht builder and 1920s bootlegger. SUBMITTED PHOTO

By about 1972, Martin decided to sell the Star, one of his bigger concerns being what to do in the event of a hurricane. Heavy winds and waves would cause the boat to crash against the seawall or even into the adjacent bridge, so his plan was to sink it in place to stabilize it. Back in 1960, during the infamous Hurricane Donna, Capt. Jim Thompson had run the Star up into the backwaters of the Ten Thousand Islands and tied it off on mangroves — an option not available in Naples. Martin had several buyers interested in the Star, including one who wanted to operate it as a floating restaurant in Old Marco, but in the end, Jim Lowe purchased it.

Henry Lowe of Marco Island, brother of Jim Lowe, remembers when his brother owned the Star and lived on it with his wife and daughter: “When both Jim and I owned part of Marco River Marina (now Rose Marina), we each lived on a boat moored there. My family was in the Big Dipper, and Jim and his family was in the Star. Compared to the Star, the Big Dipper I owned was like a crude barge. The Star was fabulous, and clearly made by a craftsman. The details could not be found today. It had brass throughout. Cypress walls inside and the ‘knees,’ which support the deck from below, were not prefabricated, but were chosen from the best part of the tree where the wood would have naturally bent and was cut and crafted to be part of this elegant vessel.” Henry said that it had been a dream of both brothers to live on boats, and they both owned theirs for about two years before selling them. Jim Lowe, being in the marina business, kept the boat maintained and the engines running. He took his family and the Star down to the Florida Keys on vacations.

The next owner was Fred Von Langen, who played the organ while his wife played the drums and piano. They worked as entertainers at the Old Marco Inn, and also sold Amway products. His dream was also to live on a boat; so upon purchase from Lowe, Von Langen, his wife and two sons — ages 12 and 14 —moved aboard and lived on the Star while it was moored at the Marco River Marina. From all accounts the Star, a high maintenance, old vessel started to show its age and to go into disrepair. He reportedly replaced the old gas engines with diesel engines; they were not run much, and it did not take very long for it to deteriorate.

Joe Torre, who worked at the time at O’Sheas Restaurant in Old Marco, purchased the Star from Von Langen with plans to move it to Remuda Ranch (the current Port of the Islands) and live with his wife, her son, Dave, and two daughters aboard. As Torre could only get one engine on the Star to operate, he arranged for it to be towed south by both a ski boat (Torre had owned and operated a ski School) and a house boat toward the Faka Union Canal. The single engine soon quit, and on the trip down, Dave Torre reported that the ski boat pulling the Star capsized with the Star ending up in the mangroves. The Coast Guard came to the rescue and towed the Star to its new berth by the marina/restaurant at Remuda Ranch adjacent to the bridge at U.S. 41.

From a brochure for the Star when it was used to fish out of Everglades City (c. 1960s). PHOTO BY JIM WEBB

From a brochure for the Star when it was used to fish out of Everglades City (c. 1960s). PHOTO BY JIM WEBB

Joe Torre’s brother helped restore the Star above the water line, but below it, there were major problems; neither engine worked, and the old wooden hull was leaking. Dave Torre says that in the three years he lived on the boat, while attending middle school in Everglades City School, the boat continued to take on water. In order to keep it afloat, they ran the bilge pumps day and night, and when the pumps quit, the floor became “quite soggy” to walk on. In the mid-1970s, Remuda Ranch was having financial problems, and often the electric would go off for non-payment. In addition to the Star’s 10-kw diesel generator to power the a/c, Joe Torre would try to connect the Star to a shore generator to keep the bilge pumps running. Dave says ironically that “at the time we were actually living on a sinking boat, with its lights constantly going on and off. Strangely, it was sort of a reflection of what was happening next door at (the ill-fated) Remuda Ranch.”

While they did have divers dive the boat to try to make underwater repairs, nothing short of pulling the boat would stop the leaking. Torre said that with its failed engines and with no boat travel lift big enough or near enough to pull a vessel this size, there seemed to be little hope. The previous owner, Jim Martin, would later say he believed that the problem was in the caulking of the wood in the hull, especially in the area near the tunnel drive where the prop wash had, over time, slowly eroded away the caulking, causing inevitable leaking. Joe Torre managed to get the boat towed to the O’Sheas restaurant on Marco where it was docked for a couple of years, and his family continued to live on it while he worked at the restaurant.

By around 1980, the Torre family sold the boat to Billy Oliver of Goodland, as Oliver recalls, for the price of $8,000. Oliver had it towed to Goodland by a crab boat, and, like others before him, planned to live on it. He remembers the boat as being beautiful and also being quite a “party boat.” Oliver said for a while it was moored behind a house near Stan’s, but, instead of using the normal bilge pumps to keep the boat afloat, Oliver switched to using a larger sump pump in order to try to keep up with the amount of water coming in.

After a couple of years, Collier County red tagged the boat (for being in a residential area), so Oliver moved the Star to under the Goodland bridge. For a few days, Oliver had to leave to go to New York, and said, with sadness, that while he was gone, the Star sank and ended up sitting on the bottom. Meanwhile, before he returned, some kids had broken into it and tossed stuff into the water and did general damage. Oliver lost a lot of his photos and documents when the Star sank. For $5,000, he sold the wood, life rings, wooden knees and other nautical parts of the yacht to Ray Bozicnik. Then, after being stripped, the boat was donated to the Marco Island Fire-Rescue Department, which used it for training as it burned off the topsides down to the waterline.

Reclaimed wood from the Star of the Everglades at the Little Bar in Goodland. Note the handcrafted wood knees that once supported an upper deck.

Reclaimed wood from the Star of the Everglades at the Little Bar in Goodland. Note the handcrafted wood knees that once supported an upper deck.

By 1982, the Star was gone, and its wood and other items purchased from it, under the creative direction of owner “Papa Ray” Bozicnik, were incorporated into his restaurant, the Little Bar in Goodland. Bozicnik had collected numerous antiques over many years while owning and operating restaurants in the Chicago area. The restaurant is today full of recovered wood doors, old pieces of a 1924 pipe organ, stained glass panels, an 1880 mantel and much more.

His son Ray remembers helping his father salvage the wood, door knobs, life ring and other items from the sunken vessel. From the Star, Papa Ray, with design help from his son built an entirely separate room — the “boat room” in the rear of the restaurant. That room, like the Star, is also air conditioned, paneled in the original rich woods, and its ceiling beams are supported by the almost century-old wood knees handcrafted by the Real McCoy’s craftsmen. It is a wonderful place to sit, drink cocktails or fine wine, eat great food, and immerse oneself into a classic era of another time.

I want to again thank Jim Webb for his memories of the Lopez family and the many brochures of the Star he has saved, Jim Martin for his vast knowledge of the history of the Star and the photos he shared, Henry Lowe for the information he shared about his brother Jim’s ownership of the Star, as well as Dave Torre for originally contacting me inquiring about the vessel he once called home, Alvin Lederer for the use of his photos, and to Billy Oliver and Ray Bozicnik for their information on the conclusion of this story.

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Second Semester Honor Rolls Fri, 07 Feb 2014 15:05:05 +0000 The second semester honor roll for Collier County District Schools in the Coastal Breeze coverage area has been released and is printed below, except for Manatee Elementary School. Coastal Breeze News applauds the efforts of each student earning this distinction.


Everglades City Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll

Alexis Hendrickson


Lely Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll

Amar Ahmed, Angel Diaz, Fauster Pierrecharles, Taylor Savage

Parkside Elementary School ‘A’ Honor Roll

Dominique Desir, Gabriella Falcon, Sabrina Rodriguez, Salomon Solorio

Tommie Barfield Elementary ‘A’ Honor Roll

Kevin Barry, Tyler Chute, Zachary Gremel, Reese Jones, Maggie Keegan, Michael Moriarty, Olivia Mundie, Eileen Poling, Elise Prodanov, Donte Vecchio

Everglades City High School High Honors

Mark Brown, Savannah Oglesby, Brandon Steffen, Cristen Steffen

Everglades City Middle School Honor Roll

Brandy Bowen, Ashlyn Goff, Bryce Kish, Claybrook Story

Lely High School High Honor Roll

Diana Alas, Stephanie Alvarez, Jessica Andrade, Ellen Angersbach, Ailyn Arizmendi, Carrissa Bearse, Elijah Beauplan, Diana Becerril, Jose Bess, Maria Bueno, Morgan Burke, Breanna Cardenas, Jackelin Castillo, Yvonne Castillo, Lemeck Cherenfant, Charles Ciurla, Emma Crawford, Joel Jean Devariste, Mathew Estrada, Bishi Eugene, Alexis Garcia, Maria Garcia, Jordin Giles, Yanet Gomez, Daisy Gonzalez, Gabrielle Graham, Ashton Greusel, Adriana Guzman, Colton Hail, Brynn Haizlip, Kare Hayman, Karla Hayman, Naaman Herrera Montes De, Salomon Herrera Montes De, Kenny Igarza Ajo, Jonathon Irigoyen, Angelica Jaime, Moliere Jean-Pierre, Jose Jimenez, Hannah Jones, Rawin Khayankit, Jonatan Kriqi, Monika Lara, Carolina Limones, Brenda Lopez, Monserrat Lopez-Flores, Alonso Lora, Lyndsay Mahoney, Sean Mcmullen, Yanish Meester, Eduardo Mireles, Katherine Moss, Nicole Murry, Taylor Murry, Tiffany Nguyen, Elizabeth Palacios, Jhemsly Palissier, Navia Penrod, Cassidy Penzo, Jose Perez, Michaela Pinter, Maura Poling, Araceli Pomajambo, Sanya Prabhakar, Tyler Qualls, Anthony Radosti, Karla Ramirez, Daniel Reed, Laura Rivera, Anthony Rocio, Frankie Rodriguez, Paola Rodriguez Fumero, Kevin Russetto, Francisco Segura, Liliana Serrato-Solorio, Cody Simmons, Barbara Solis Duran, Santiago Solis-Gamarra, Guillermo Soto, Francesca Spalla, Timothy Stoll, Kristian Sulser, Rebecca Sutton, Charmine Sylvestre, Anne Sophia Thelus, Sophia Torres, Xavier Vecchio, Anahi Vivar, Brittany Walker, Gage Wheeler, Taylor Williams, Randall Woodson

Manatee Middle School Highest Honors

Daniel Abraham, Guilline Andre, Ashley Arango, Antonio Arreguin, Jesus Barrera, Onna Batista Pardo, Chelky Blaise, Anthony Bonet, Eduardo Briones-Lemus, Jetro Calixte, Roberto Carcamo, Victoria Chavez, Allysa Chesterfield, Perla Cisneros, Lizeth Compean, Alicia Contreras-Sagredo, Isabel Cruz, Loobert Denelus, Daviel Diaz Pajon, Brenda Estala, Lorena Estala, Dginica Faustin, Christelle Francoeur, Areli Garcia, Jairo Garciga, Azabella Golles, Idania Gomez, Nayeli Gomez, Azalea Gonzalez, Lizbeth Gonzalez, Paulina Hernandez, Mayte Herrera, Fabian Jaime, Ella Kerchner, Natalie Lara, Jasmine Lopez, Cristian Lorenzo, Karelix Martinez, Brittney Mendoza, Alminesha Meronvil, Alfredo Noguez, Jennifer Padilla, Nohelia Parra, Noemi Pascual-Martinez, Sheebensh Prophilien, Karla Ramirez, Kimberly Ramirez, Carlos Ramirez-Lancon, Matthew Reed, Mercedes Reyes, Miguel Rodriguez, Salma Rojas, Carlos Salazar, Sierra Sann, Madison Seehafer, Rafael Serna, Cooper Siers, Emmanuel Sifrin, Kamalia Smith, Elizabeth Stephen, Claudia Tariche Fortes, Norma Urrutia, Jocelyn Vazquez, Katia Vega, Destanie Walker, Patricia Zepeda

Marco Island Academy Highest Honors

Tristan Ashby, Jordan Barrett, Zachary Brown, Alexa Campisi, Sarah Colburn, Duneshka Cruz, Marcus Daffner, Blake Dehooghe, Dylan Demkovich, Austin Estremera, Krystal Gonzalez, Annmarie Grossi, Michael Grossi, Natalie Halbuer, Ashley Hall, Jessica Hall, Haley Havemeier, Jacob Hurtley, Kathleen Kirstein, Livia Lenhoff, Steven Linton, Kiera Ludwigsen, Colin Mcmullen, Fermin Mendoza-Jauregui, Patrick Michel, Elizabeth Milakovich, Kaitlyn Nelson, Johnathan Olszak, Matthew Olszak, Mayra Ortega, Brenda Perez, Juliana Pisculli, Joseph Politi, Jessica Ragan, Meagan Reisinger, Sarah Reisinger, John Roche, Dylan Rogers, Kyle Russo, Caitlyn Schmidt, Connor Schmidt, Ariel Schneider, Peter Servente, David Snow, Cora Stahl, Colin Stretton, Danielle Sullivan, Stephen Vale, Alexis Vilk, Joshua Zegers

Marco Island Charter Middle School Highest Honors

Juan Acosta, Francisco Antunez, Emma Bailey, Joanne Belliveau, Regan Boyce, Megan Brown, Madeline Burt, Mckinley Champeau, Conor Coleman, Marshall Daffner, Lauren Dehooghe, Michael Desantis, Zachary Deserranno, Stuart Endres, Lauren Faremouth, Mariam Gomareli, Madeline Grucci, Ryenn Hart, Kiley Hartman, Teagan Havemeier, Cameryn Henell, Josemaria Herrera, Savannah Hoolihan, Madison Hopkins, Sereen Itayem, Ariel Joel, Morgan Jones, Scott Martin, Cipriano Martinez, Samuel Meredith, Michael Mertens, Sarah Nemeth, Daniel Nguyen, Lenka Okenkova, Lia Okenkova, Vy Pham, Laura Poelstra, Michael Poling, Richard Reisinger, Mikayla Rivera, Anabella Rodriguez, Lily Rosenblum, Santiago Ruiz, Harry Sukonik, Jolie Sukonik, Josephine Torres, James Ussery, Mary Vale, Ethan Van Boven, Jordan Vann, Hailey Vaughan, Enrique Vizcaya, Olivia Watt, Lauren Wesson, Ryan Witthoff

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Everglades Seafood Festival Nears Fri, 24 Jan 2014 20:11:15 +0000 By Natalie Strom

full-on family fair adds to the fun. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

full-on family fair adds to the fun. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

The 41st Annual Everglades City Seafood Festival is just around the corner — then another three blocks down, take a left and you’ll see it straight ahead another two blocks. That’s what you’ll hear if you get there late, that is. The spectacular line-up of seafood, music, arts and crafts, rides and games draws thousands to historic Everglades City every year for this fabulous festival.

The weekend-long event will take place on Friday, Feb. 7-Sunday, Feb. 9. Festivities begin on Friday night at 5 PM and end at 10 PM. Saturday runs from 10 AM-10 PM, and the fun on Sunday begins at 11 AM, closing down the festival at 6 PM.

Seafood vendors (and some non-seafood) travel from near and far to feed the masses. Crab cakes, fried fish, stone crab claws, Indian burgers, soft shell crabs, hot dogs, burgers, italian beef and so much more create an aroma that leaves mouths salivating as they walk past the food tents.

A delicious meal calls for a delicious drink. Water, soda, fresh squeezed lemonade and beer will be available for purchase. Buy a beer and get a complimentary Seafood Festival mug.

Everglades City is known for its fresh stone crabs, brought in right off the boat.

Everglades City is known for its fresh stone crabs, brought in right off the boat.

Then there’s the music. Big name bands will perform throughout the entire festival. People are welcome to stay as long as the music plays. Casey Weston, the Grayson Rogers Band, The Gladezmen and Jimmie van Zant are only a sample of the well-known Florida musical acts to perform throughout the festival.

Art and craft booths line the streets selling just about anything one could need. Peruse through the aisles of clothing, jewelry, purses, wallets, knives, belt buckles, flowers, paintings, signs and many one-of a kind items.

Kids and kids-at-heart will enjoy the rides and games brought in for the weekend as well. Ride the bucking bull; win a goldfish; shoot some hoops; ride the tilt-a-whirl; and take your best squirt gun shot to bring home a big stuffed animal souvenir.

The Everglades City Seafood Festival has something for everyone. Proceeds from the family-friendly event go back to the historic city to keep it as beautiful and maintained as it ever was. Take a ride down SR-29 by way of I-75 or US-41, and see why the festival is now 41 years strong. Learn more at


Handmade arts and crafts make for great gifts or souvenirs.

Handmade arts and crafts make for great gifts or souvenirs.

Seafood Festival Musical Line-up
Friday Night the Fun Begins!
• 5:45 PM: Houston Brown
• 6:50 PM: The Dance Company (LaBelle, FL)
• 7:30 PM: Let’s Hang On
• 9 PM: Tim Elliott

Saturday Swings!
• 10 AM: Opening Ceremony
• 10:30 AM: The Dance Company (LaBelle, FL)
• 12 PM: Grayson Rogers Band
• 1 PM: Them Hamilton Boys
• 2:15 PM: Brad Anderson
• 3:30 PM: Casey Weston
• 4:30 PM: Parmalee (Nashville)
• 6:30 PM: Angela Marsaglia with South 41
• 7:45 PM: Tim Elliott

Sunday Stars Sparkle!
• 11 AM: Opening Ceremony
• 11:30 AM: The Gladezmen
• 12:45 PM: Wendell Ray
• 2 PM: The Tim Charron Band
• 3:15 PM: Tim Elliott
• 4:30 PM: Jimmie van Zant


Feel like staying the night? A slew of hotels are available:
Captain’s Table Hotel 239-695-4211
Everglades City Motel 239-695-4224
Everglades Historical Bed & Breakfast with Spa 239-695-0013
Ivey House Bed & Breakfast 239-695-3299
Rod & Gun Lodge 239-695-2101
Chokoloskee Island Park and Marina  (Campground & Hotel) 239-695-2414
Parkway Motel & Marina, Chokoloskee 239-695-3261
Outdoor Resorts (ORA) Motel & Marina, Chokoloskee 239-695-2881
Port of the Islands (East Naples on US-41) 239-394-3101


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The Star of the Everglades Its Journey From the 1920s to Today Fri, 24 Jan 2014 18:42:50 +0000 COASTAL HISTORY
Craig Woodward

B1-CBN-1-24-14-2Mention the vessel Star of the Everglades to local, long-time residents, and it brings a big smile to their faces. Soon, they are flooded with memories of this fabulous boat which was aptly named the Star. Not only was the Star a luxury cruise boat for its day, but it also opened up the Ten Thousand Islands to world-class fishing. Digging into the vessel’s history, one quickly hears stories. Its first owner made money in the bird feather, or plume, trade in the late 1800s. The boat’s builder was extremely wealthy, becoming famous by running whiskey during Prohibition. The Star played a role in a classic 1958 film made in the Everglades, and several U.S. presidents had been on it. Of course, there are many twists and turns to every journey, and it turns out that there were actually two vessels named the Star

The first and original Star (the “of the Everglades” was added later) was owned by Gregorio Lopez, who was born in 1848 and is the great-grandfather of Jim Webb, a third-generation owner of the local hardware store in Everglades City. The Lopez family moved to Southwest Florida in 1873 from Spain when Gregorio left to gain economic freedom. The family settled along a very remote river located southeast of Chokoloskee Island — later named the Lopez River. The Lopez home site, like most pioneer settlements in the Ten Thousand Islands, was built on an old Indian shell mound. Today, it is one of the first campsites on the Wilderness Waterway, which winds its way for 99 miles south of Chokoloskee through the Everglades National Park to the town of Flamingo on the southernmost tip of mainline Southwest Florida, Cape Sable. A tabby mortar rainwater cistern built by Gregorio Lopez in the 1890s is located on the old homestead; the family wrote an inscription into it that reads “child Lopes born April 20, 1892.” Those who have camped at this spot say that Mr. Lopez picked the most beautiful location for his home with an awesome view over the river.

Around the end of the 19th century, Gregorio had a financially rewarding career as a plume hunter, moving on to become an alligator hunter when plume hunting became illegal. He saw the start of the tourist industry in Southwest Florida and purchased the first yacht, Star, to take fishermen south from Everglade (the future Everglades City) down to the mouth of the Shark River in the Ten Thousand Islands for sport fishing. It is not clear when the first Star was purchased, but most likely, Lopez seized the opportunity around the time of the birth of Collier County in 1923, when the southernmost of Barron G. Collier’s chain of hotels — the Rod and Gun Club and the Everglades Inn —
began bringing in eager fisherman arriving weekly on a steamship line that Collier operated.

The original Star of the Everglades (c. 1950s) owned by the Lopez family of Chokoloskee and filmed in the movie Wind Across the Everglades. PhotoS by Jim Webb

The original Star of the Everglades (c. 1950s) owned by the Lopez family of Chokoloskee and filmed in the movie Wind Across the Everglades. PhotoS by Jim Webb

The Lopez River was not the only waterway named by Gregorio Lopez in the late 1800s. He named Plate Creek after having dropped a plate in the water, and he chose the name Onion Key for an island just inside the mouth of the Shark River simply because he ate his last onion there. Onion Key was another Indian shell mound. Its big claim to fame occurred during Florida’s 1920’s land boom when the Tropical Florida Development Corporation acquired an interest in three square miles of land, or 1,920 acres, and in 1925, drew out a subdivision of 8,933 lots, naming their project “Poinciana” and marketing it widely as “The Coming Miami of the Gulf.” It was almost impossible to travel to the project so most of their sales were by advertising this “new Miami.” They were truly selling mangrove swamp land. The “development” died after the 1926 hurricane wiped out Onion Key which killed the Florida’s 1920s land boom.

Gregorio, Sr., and his Florida born wife, Lovie, (from a local family, the Daniels) raised three boys — Gregorio, Jr. (known as “Grady”), Alphonso and Joseph (Jim Webb’s grandfather) — and a daughter, Ida Mae. Passport records showed that in 1918 Gregorio, Sr., listed his occupation as a farmer, and he left the U.S. for health reasons to go to Honduras, which was then Spanish-owned. Gregorio’s sons stepped in and followed in their dad’s footsteps all becoming fishing guides, as were some of Gregorio’s grandsons. Gregorio, Sr., died at age 84 on August 4, 1932, and is buried at the Lopez cemetery on Chokoloskee Island.

Capt. Grady Lopez with his daughter, Rosina Thompson.

Capt. Grady Lopez with his daughter, Rosina Thompson.

An early Collier County fishing brochure mentions that the fabulous Shark River Cruiser, the Star of the Everglades, then operated by Grady (Gregorio Lopez, Jr.), was 40 feet long and could take parties of four or five. The vessel had its own cook, and in 1949, cost $55 per day with one guide (Grady). It pulled a small boat behind it; however, if one chose to have a second guide and a second small boat, the price increased by $20. At the time, there was plenty of competition, as the guide pamphlet shows 29 other captains guiding out of Everglades City in small boats ranging from 18 feet to larger Cabin Cruisers (many made locally and known as Chokoloskee Cruisers) ranging in size from 28 feet with two bunks to 34 feet with four bunks.

Grady Lopez was selected to take Franklin Delano Roosevelt fishing out of Everglades City; FDR being one of five U.S. presidents to have visited Everglades City. In 1947, President Harry Truman was in Everglades City for the opening of the Everglades National Park, and he was entertained on the Star. After the airport in Everglades opened in 1947, not only could “fresh bait” be flown to the Star, but the brochure also said that if one had “pressing business problems, arrangements can be made to fly to and from the fishing grounds by charter service.”

In 1949, Collier County’s seat of government, Everglades City, was described as: “… fishermen are drawn (to it) from every state in the Union by persistent reports of superlative fishing every month in the year. In Everglades, the official weighing station in front of the Rod and Gun Club is the center of attraction every afternoon at 5 when the fleet comes in. There you see the evidence, the prize-winning fish, the tournament-winning fish, the world’s record fish, all caught on an Everglades boat with an Everglades guide. It is from the Everglades that most of the fabulous Shark River cruisers set out, an adventure comparable to an expedition into Africa bringing back impressive trophies and motion pictures of the greatest moments in anyone’s life.” It was in the early 1950s when President Dwight Eisenhower came to Everglades to fish and also was on the Star.

Grady turned over the ownership and operation of the Star to his daughter, Rosina, and her husband, Jim Thompson. By the 1950s, fishing guides left the Rod and Gun at 8 AM and were back at 5 PM, except for the Shark River cruisers which were gone for several days or up to a week or so. Jim Webb was a cabin boy in the original Star in 1957. His job was to clean up and make the beds. He laid out food, and like the rest of the crew and the guides, slept on the top deck when the vessel overnighted down in the Ten Thousand Islands. The guests slept below in private cabins. Also located on that first level were the galley, dining area and bathrooms. The first Star did not have air conditioning and ran only in the winters.

In the most famous movie made in Collier County — the 1958 “Wind Across the Everglades” starring Christopher Plummer, Burl Ives, Peter Falk and Gypsy Rose Lee — there is a scene of a July 4 celebration filmed on the beach at Marco Island. As the Star travels just off of Marco’s beach, its decks are full of women who are, shall we say, of “dubious character.” They are seen smiling and waving at the townspeople with their families as they party on the beach and set off firecrackers. Trouble brews when a few of the local men on the beach are directly acknowledged by these women calling out to them from the Star. Immediately, the men get concerned looks and questions from their wives as to how they know these women!

‘Star of the Everglades’ painted by retired Collier County Deputy J.B. Singletary. Photo by Jim Webb

‘Star of the Everglades’ painted by retired Collier County Deputy J.B. Singletary. Photo by Jim Webb

In the early 1960s, the Star left Everglades City for the last time, and later returned as the new Star, a 65-foot-long, plush, richly-appointed yacht built in 1927 and purchased by the Lopez family to upgrade the experience for those wealthy enough to charter it for long trips down to the remote rivers of the lower Ten Thousand Islands. This Star would have an equally interesting journey. It moved to Naples for a few years. Then was lived aboard on Marco, moved to Remuda Ranch (now Port of the Islands) and came back to Marco Island to its final resting place in Goodland. To be continued…

I want to thank Jim Webb for his memories of the Lopez family and the many photos and brochures of the Star he has saved. I also will be thanking many others who contributed to this story, but will save the details until the next issue.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR Wed, 18 Dec 2013 15:10:07 +0000 Re: Smallwood Store Public Hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014

Dear Commissioners,

Smallwood Store and Museum is under attack again, but this time by our own county! If you vote to vacate the 100-year old road to Smallwood Store, thereby jeopardizing the continuing existence of this historic structure, you are letting your taxpayers down!

The Smallwood Store came under attack last year when Florida-Georgia Grove (FGG), a Limited Liability Partnership from Sebring, FL, bought property adjacent to the Store knowing that the deed had a public road right in the middle of it. Over one weekend, bulldozers were brought in to destroy the only road leading to the store. They also fenced it off! A lawsuit ensued, and the Judge ruled that the company must restore the road. FGG appealed this ruling and they lost again. Now, the FGG attorneys have gotten involved trying to settle with property owners for an easement, which is inadequate and only benefits FGG! If Commissioners vote “to vacate the road” you are reversing the courts ruling. More to the point you are leaving the public access to Smallwood Store in the hands of a company who has demonstrated they have no sense of history.

The modern settlement of Chokoloskee Island began in 1874. Early residents farmed, fished and caught turtles, selling surpluses in Key West. In 1906, Ted opened his famous Smallwood Store and Indian Trading Post right on the waterfront at the end of the dirt road he named for his wife. The Store served as the town’s post office for the next 68 years. Mail came by boat from Key West, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers and Everglades City – until the causeway to Chokoloskee Island was completed in 1956.

Smallwood Store & Museum has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for 39 years.

Tourists come to Everglades City and Chokoloskee to savor the flavor of old times. Visitors stay overnight, bring tourist dollars, spend money, and boost the economy of the whole area. It makes economic sense to save Smallwood Store, our tourist attraction.

Please don’t leave the fate of Mamie Street (and Smallwood Store & Museum) in the hands of FGG who destroyed the road in the first place for their own private benefit. I ask you to vote to keep Mamie Street a public road as it has been for 100 years. Hold FGG accountable for restoring the proper road as the court decreed. Resolve this issue once and for all.

Sincerely yours,

Elizabeth M. Perdichizzi

Caxambas Publishing Author, Owner
Non-fiction books
Preserving the history of SW Florida 

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E.C. Welcomes Alan Maltz Wed, 23 Oct 2013 14:23:21 +0000 By Natalie Strom

Meet Alan Maltz Nov. 2 in Everglades City. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Meet Alan Maltz Nov. 2 in Everglades City. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

It’s no surprise that photographers flock to Southwest Florida. The sunsets, animal life, water, mazes of mangroves, the River of Grass and the trees of Big Cypress are not only stunning, but are all within minutes of one other. Professional photographer Alan S. Maltz has captured that beauty in his latest coffee table book, and he will be celebrating its release on November 2 in Everglades City.

Designated the “Official Fine Art Photographer for the State of Florida” by VISIT FLORIDA and “The Official Wildlife Photographer of Florida” by the Wildlife Foundation of Florida, Maltz’s new book is entitled Journey Through Paradise: Naples, Marco Island & The Everglades.

Commissioned to create a series of images by the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, Maltz was so inspired, he continued to photograph the area, ending with a collection of 147 Southwest Florida portraits to fill his latest coffee table book.

In a press release, Jack Wert, Executive Director of the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau stated, “We are very honored that Alan Maltz has chosen our destination for his latest photo collection. Alan has truly captured the charm of the Everglades, the ambiance of Naples, the seaside beauty of Marco Island, and the tranquility of our Gulf coastline. Through his talented style, Alan has showcased our area in photos that we can now share with the world.”

As of October 1, Maltz’s works have been on display at the Museum of the Everglades in Everglades City. The show will go on until November 2, and that’s when the party really starts. Between 1 PM and 3 PM on November 2, Alan Maltz will be at the museum to sign books and prints and visit with guests.

Maltz’s exhibit in Everglades City features photographs in his book.

Maltz’s exhibit in Everglades City features photographs in his book.

Maltz also has his latest photographic medium on display at the Museum of the Everglades: Prints on aluminum. The aluminum gives the photos a high definition feel that is also waterproof and scratch resistant.

His fifth coffee table photography book, A Journey Through Paradise, takes a closer look at all life forms of Southwest Florida in all their beauty.

The Museum of the Everglades is located at 105 West Broadway, Everglades City. For more information about the Alan Maltz exhibit or the museum in general, call 239-695-0008. To learn more about Alan Maltz, visit

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Everglades City Celebrates Stone Crab Season Fri, 04 Oct 2013 12:35:56 +0000 By Natalie Strom

Stone crab season has finally begun!

One young boy reaches for the frog that slipped from his hands just before start of the race. PHOTOS  BY NATALIE STROM

One young boy reaches for the frog that slipped from his hands just before start of the race. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Restaurants and fish markets will be serving up the tasty delicatessen that is the stone crab claw beginning October 15. Many of those claws may very well come from Everglades City where a slew of commercial stone crabbers work and live. What has now become a tradition, the Annual Blessing of the Fleet, took place on September 28 at the historic Rod and Gun Club.

The Blessing, which began five years ago by Everglades City transplant, Tod Dahlke, has become one of the city’s favorite days of the year. It was filled with flowers, frogs, raffles, coconut guava cakes, arts and crafts for sale and much more.

Every boat was blessed with a prayer and holy water.

Every boat was blessed with a prayer and holy water.

Festivities began around 1 PM, starting with the frog jumping contest. Children of different age groups chose a frog, all of which had been caught in the area the night before, hoping to be the big winner. And suddenly, frogs were flying everywhere! The slippery amphibians wiggled their way out of young ones hands, causing chaos as the kids chased their frogs until they were once agin in their hands; they were then squeezed much tighter – much tighter – so they wouldn’t escape again.

Led by Tod Dahlke, children released their frogs on his count. It was a mad dash to the finish line for those frogs, and the children eagerly chased them, grabbing them, squeezing them tight and holding them up in the air, hoping to be the victor. Soon it was the final race, featuring one child from each age group. And on Dahlke’s count, the finalists released their frogs. It was close, but in the end, seven year old Teddy Smallwood and his prized frog won first place. Trophies were given to the top three winners, and Tod quickly brought out a treasure chest for the rest of the kids that was filled to the brim with prizes. Those who watched were certainly entertained, laughing at the follies of the young children trying to maintain control of their frogs.

Eight year old B.J. Richards held his frog close as he prepped for the next race.

Eight year old B.J. Richards held his frog close as he prepped for the next race.

“The kids love it,” stated Terry Gizzi, mother of Tod Dahlke, in regards to the frog races, but also the day as a whole. “It really inspires the boaters to know how much we all care because we know it’s their living. It makes the Captains feel good, too.”

According to Shannon Miller of Everglades City, four churches in the area were a part of the blessing: Everglades City Community Church, Copleand Baptist Church, Chokoloskee Church of God and Everglades Baptist Church. At 2 PM, pastors or representatives from all four churches waited with the crowd as the stone crab boats arrived. A prayer was said within the outside terrace of the Rod and Gun Club, asking for God to bless the boats, guide the Captains, allow them a prosperous season and a safe return.

Flower girls spread fresh petals along the edge of the dock as the boats tied up to shore. A total of eight boats were blessed, including a father and son team, each with their own boat, Kit Kat and Serious Addiction. Both boats were painted in white with teal accents as well.

 Kit Kat and its Captain and crew received a blessing.

Kit Kat and its Captain and crew received a blessing.

Pastors stopped at every boat, said a prayer with every family and then blessed the boat by dipping a palm frond in holy water and making the symbol of the cross. Soon it was time for the coconut guava cake judging contest. All nine cakes in the running were beautifully decorated – some with flowers, others with frosting. One cake even had a guava made out of frosting sitting on top. Judges Patty Huff, Vonice Rigney and Crystal Potter were served slices of every pie by Dahlke. While each looked and tasted delicious, it wasn’t easy attempting to eat every slice! The winners were mother and daughter team Joanie Griffin and Terri Rementeria.

Judges (L to R) Crystal Potter, Vonice Rigney and Patty Huff were served nine different coconut guava cake slices by Tod Dahlke.

Judges (L to R) Crystal Potter, Vonice Rigney and Patty Huff were served nine different coconut guava cake slices by Tod Dahlke.

Live music played in the background, booths were set up for different organizations, people feasted on roasted pig platters, the kids made a big splash in the pool and arts and crafts tents lined the open area outside.

Overall, those who came to support the stone crabbers – from both near and far – had a wonderful time celebrating what has now become tradition and will surely continue to be so for years to come.


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Everglades Student Showcase Sat, 13 Jul 2013 18:18:43 +0000 By Natalie Strom

Drawings of historic buildings throughout Everglades City. Everglades City School’s art teacher is Mr. Tribble. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Drawings of historic buildings throughout Everglades City. Everglades City School’s art teacher is Mr. Tribble. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Throughout the summer, the Museum of the Everglades is featuring artwork by local students. The colorful and talent-filled artwork in its many different mediums lights up the display cases in the front room as visitors enter the museum.

Located in the heart of Everglades City, only one block from City Hall, the Museum of the Everglades is run by the Collier County Museums, which encompasses the museums of Naples, Marco Island, Immokalee and Everglades City.

The well-maintained museum is free to visit, and is filled with information and exhibits on the vibrant history of the Calusa Indians, the era of the taming of the Everglades and the eventual creation of the Everglades National Park, among many other fascinating facts.

The history paired with the local artwork makes for a unique experience; one perceives a “then and now” feel for the area. The surprising part is that the love of nature, the history of the city and a feel for the Indian culture runs through the art of the students just as it does through the rest of the museum.

Top painting by Savannah Humphreys, 9th grade. Bottom painting by Brandon Bruscini, 8th grade.

Top painting by Savannah Humphreys, 9th grade. Bottom painting by Brandon Bruscini, 8th grade.

The Student Showcase will run through September and is certainly worth the short and beautiful trip to Everglades City.

The Museum of the Everglades is located at 105 Broadway Ave W, Everglades, Florida 34139. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 AM until 4 PM, call 239-695-0008 or visit or

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CBN Columnists Talk History Tue, 21 May 2013 15:13:07 +0000 By Natalie Strom

Betsy Perdichizzi, dressed as Tommie Barfield, sells her historical books. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Betsy Perdichizzi, dressed as Tommie Barfield, sells her historical books. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

It’s a big year for Florida; so many reasons to celebrate. The year 2013 marks the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of Florida, the 85th Anniversary of the Tamiami Trail and the 90th Anniversary of Collier County – all of which are noteworthy in their own right. So, plan on parties throughout the year. Some may be similar to the night of May 8th, where a full auditorium celebrated the 90th Anniversary of Collier County thanks to the efforts of the Collier County Museums.

The evening was held at North Collier Regional Park and promised four guest lecturers from four prominent cities within the county. Lodge Mckee spoke of the development of the City of Naples, Fred Thomas spoke about Immokalee’s history and Coastal Breeze columnists Craig Woodward and Patty Huff discussed Marco Island and Everglades City, respectively.

Many signed up to become Friends of the Collier County Museums.

Many signed up to become Friends of the Collier County Museums.

Employees and volunteers of the Collier County Museums greeted guests, sparkling in flapper attire. Mary Margaret Gruszka, Volunteer Coordinator for the Collier County Museum ran the show, wearing a beautiful purple headpiece and long pearl necklace to complete her 1920’s look – the era in which Collier County was created (if you didn’t already do the math).

As emcee of the evening, Gruszka introduced the four lecturers with the understanding that each had eight minutes to speak, “and it would be timed with an egg clock. Seriously!” Gruszka said as she held up the clock.

Fred Thomas and Lodge Mckee gave informative lectures about their cities, from Seminole beginnings or from a group of friends carving out a piece of paradise for themselves, they enthralled the audience, both running over the eight-minute egg timer buzz. But Gruszka was quick to cut them off and move onto the next.

Patty Huff and Craig Woodward.

Patty Huff and Craig Woodward.

Patty Huff spoke about Everglades City. She spoke of her “love of the quaintness of the town” when she moved to her piece of paradise on the water there in 1994. She explained that Everglades City was the original County Seat and Courthouse; how it became a fishing village; and how it then became a tourist destination. Patty owns and operates “The Mullet Rapper” publication in Everglades City. It is accessible online at Patty has also written the “Buzz from the Swamp” column for The Coastal Breeze since its inception.

Craig Woodward writes “Coastal History” for Coastal Breeze News but is better known on Marco Island as local historian and long-time local lawyer. He spoke of the “four things that make Marco special,” but jokingly warned, “I’m an attorney and I never get anything done in eight minutes.” He briefly discussed living on Marco for 45 years now – half the age of the county, as he pointed out with some comical dismay. He went on to talk about the Calusas and their ancestors; how Indian Hill is the highest point in Collier County; and how the Marco Cat dig was of such significance. He hit on the beauty of the island with it’s white, crescent-shaped beach, the Ten Thousand Islands to the east and Rookery Bay to the north. And then the egg-timer went off. Craig moved through history and location, but never had a chance to enthrall the audience on points three or four.

However, those who live on Marco Island need not be reminded of those points, to be sure.

Mary Margaret Gruszka and other museum  employees dressed as flapper girls.

Mary Margaret Gruszka and other museum employees dressed as flapper girls.

Cake was cut, spirits were high, Ponce de Leon made an appearance in full armor and local authors were on hand to sign and sell their books. This included one Betsy Perdichizzi, well known on Marco Island for her historical portrayal of Tommie Barfield as well as her book written on the iconic woman.

People also signed up to become members of the Friends of the Collier County Museums, which supports the five museums: The Collier County Museum, The Naples Depot Museum, the Marco Island Historical Museum, the Museum of the Everglades and the Immokalee Pioneer Museum at Roberts Ranch. To learn more about the Collier County Museums visit or call 239-252-8476.

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Tamiami Trail Turns 85 Fri, 03 May 2013 12:34:47 +0000 By Natalie Strom

Upon its completion, the Tamiami Trail was touted as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Barron Gift Collier, for whom our County is named, and D. Graham Copeland, for whom the town is named, were the men behind the incredible engineering feat. Since the completion of the road in 1928, motorists have been able to travel from Tampa to Miami, thus the name, with ease. Celebrating its milestone birthday, Everglades City threw a party worthy of the road that forever changed travel in Southwest Florida.

The Barron Collier High School Band put on a magnificent show for the crowd just as the Opening Ceremony began. PHOTOS BY NATALIE STROM

Prior to the road, boats were really the only form of transportation either through the swampland or along the coastline. The timing was also perfect as the automobile was becoming more of a necessity and less of a prized possession.

James Billie of the Seminole Tribe talks about tales of the Tamiami

James Billie of the Seminole Tribe talks about tales of the Tamiami

Originally, the Tamiami Trail started out of Miami in 1917, but the project was incredibly difficult. Underneath the swamp was limestone which required massive effort to remove. Mosquitoes and heat made the work even more difficult. It took five years to make it 50 miles before the Chevalier Group went bankrupt and abandoned the project.

Barron Collier came along and offered to finish the road if the state would name a county after him. After all, he owned thousands of acres of land which soon did become Collier County.

Collier began his side of the trail in Fort Myers, with crews using 40,000 pounds of dynamite for every mile of road. The trail was the largest consumer of dynamite at the time. It’s been said the amount of dynamite used would stretch from here to California.

The Walking Dredge was invented and its capabilities were what built the trail. A modern marvel in its own right, the dredge dug up the dynamited debris, dumped the dirt onto the future road and then “walked” forward. While Collier didn’t invent the dredge, he did invent the idea of putting line markings on the road, which we still see on every roadway today.

A grand cake for a grand celebration.

A grand cake for a grand celebration.

And so, the road is certainly worthy of celebration. So much so, that a whole day in the Everglades was planned around it. The day started with a Pancake Breakfast, followed by a parade around the town circle and a beautiful Opening Ceremony in front of City Hall.

The day was hosted by The Friends of the Everglades Museum. Ron D. Jamro of the Collier County Museums was the Master of Ceremonies, who introduced Everglades City Mayor, Sammy Hamilton, as one of the principal speakers.

“I want to welcome everyone to what was the first County Seat, established in Collier County in 1923. Our City Hall building was completed as the first Collier County Courthouse in 1928 – the year that the Tamiami Trail was also completed… We are here today to not only celebrate the anniversary of Collier County, the Tamiami Trail and the museum, but also the 60th Anniversary of our beautiful little city, the City of Everglades. I am proud to be the Mayor of this great city for over 20 years and we continue to honor and appreciate our heritage.”

Mayor Hamilton then called up Chairman James Billie of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to say a few words.

Martha Hutcheson as the “updated” fairy on the horse from the original parade.

Martha Hutcheson as the “updated” fairy on the horse from the original parade.

“There used to be legends and stories I heard about the Tamiami Trail; how the white man got together and they made that trail. Why was it so important? Because people needed to travel across the Everglades,” stated Billie. “But for the Indians, it was important for them because they could find a dry place to put their chickee huts on the overburden of the road! To this day, if you travel along the Tamiami Trail, you’ll see Indian Villages along that road. That was probably, on the humblest note, the most miraculous things the Indians could find. The rest of the time they were out in the Ten Thousand Islands trying to make a living or even just trying to survive. So when I heard there was going to be a celebration, I slapped a pair of shorts on and got over here, Sammy.”

Dressed as Tommie Barfield, Betsy Perdichizzi, read the speech delivered by Barron Collier on the day of the opening of the Tamiami Trail, in 1928. “Today the eyes of the world are focused on Florida. And the world sees the completion of the greatest highway that this splendid peninsula has ever possessed – not only for its value to the millions of people who will use it but to the entire population of Southern Florida… The Tamiami Trail is finished. The impossible has been accomplished. It couldn’t be done, but Florida did it.”

Betsy Perdichizzi as Tommie Barfield, recites Barron Collier’s speech.

Betsy Perdichizzi as Tommie Barfield, recites Barron Collier’s speech.

Present for the Opening Ceremony were representatives of the Everglades City Council, Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, Collier Seminole State Park, Department of Transportation, Everglades City School, Collier County Schools, the Collier County Airport Authority, Tax Collector, Growth Management, Property Appraiser and the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Ochopee Fire Control District, and Immokalee representatives.

The day continued on with a barbeque and fish fry, arts and crafts fair, guest speakers, guided tours of the city, old timers’ storytelling, a birthday cake ceremony, afternoon tea at the historic Rod and Gun Club and ending with a movie and popcorn at the Community Church.

In one grand day, Everglades City celebrated the 500th Anniversary of the discovery of Florida, the 90th Anniversary of Collier County, the 85th Anniversary of the Opening of the Tamiami Trail, the 60th Anniversary of Everglades City and the 15th Anniversary of the Museum of the Everglades. With all the milestones achieved, the celebratory cake was as big as the celebration itself.

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Tamiami Trail Celebration Fri, 26 Apr 2013 03:47:39 +0000 The Museum of the Everglades will be celebrating its biggest one-day event of the year on Saturday, April 27th; the 85th Anniversary of the opening of the Tamiami Trail in 1928. The Museum will also be observing the arrival of Ponce de Leon to Florida as a part of the “Viva La Florida 500” celebration as well as Collier County’s 90th anniversary and the 60th Anniversary of Everglades City.


The Tamiami Trail opened in 1928.

After a free pancake breakfast at the Everglades Airpark, the Friends of the Museum have planned a great program, starting with a parade highlighting the Barron Collier High School Band, antique cars carrying dignitaries, a mounted police patrol, swamp buggies, the Sarasota Sailor Children’s Circus, and much more.

There will be arts and crafts, face painting and fun for the whole family as well as a barbeque and a fish fry (for just $10 each). After lunch, Jeff Klinkenberg of the St. Petersburg Times, will be the guest speaker, followed by old timers’ storytelling and a walking tour. A complimentary tea at the historic Rod & Gun Club and birthday cake will be served by the Friends of Fakahatchee. Later in the day a free movie and popcorn will be served.

The following is the schedule of events:

  • 10:00 AM Pancake Breakfast Fly-In at Airpark
  • 11:00 AM Parade around Town and Pavilion open with Arts & Crafts
  • 12:00 PM Opening Ceremony
  • 12:30 PM Barbeque/Fish Fry
  • 1:30 PM Speaker Jeff Klinkenberg at the Seafood Depot
  • 2:30 PM Old Timers’ Story Telling
  • 3:30 PM Guided Walking Tour of Historic Sites
  • 4:30 PM Afternoon Tea at Historic Rod & Gun Club
  • 5:30 PM Movie and Popcorn

Don’t miss the festivities in Everglades City! For more information about this celebration, call the Museum of the Everglades at 239-695-0008. To learn more about Everglades City, visit website

About The Author

Patricia Huff has lived in Everglades City for the past 18 years and is the Publisher of the local newspaper The Mullet Rapper. To learn more about events and activities in the Everglades City area, visit website 

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Honoring National Everglades Day Tue, 23 Apr 2013 14:35:29 +0000 By Natalie Strom

In honor of the Second Annual National Everglades Day, April 6th, Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR) was ready to throw a party. Just last year the date was chosen as it is the birthday of Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, a champion of the Everglades, known best for her book, “The Everglades: River of Grass.” She was at the forefront of the fight towards redefining the Everglades as a treasured river rather than a useless swamp.

The Picayune Strand - once slated to be Golden Gate Estates East - is visible in the top right where canals in grid shape are easily identifiable. This is the area that will be reclaimed to wilderness and should help maintain regular salinity in nearby estuaries.

The Picayune Strand – once slated to be Golden Gate Estates East – is visible in the top right where canals in grid shape are easily identifiable. This is the area that will be reclaimed to wilderness and should help maintain regular salinity in nearby estuaries.

Much has been learned about “The River of Grass” since Douglas wrote the book in 1947, but the devastation to the Everglades had already begun. As people are beginning to understand the need for proper water flow throughout the Everglades and Florida as a whole, steps are constantly being taken to protect what is left of the anything but useless swamp.

It can be assumed that what took place at RBNERR on the Second Annual National Everglades Day would have certainly pleased Ms. Douglas. The public celebration that had been initially planned turned into an intimate gathering of some of the most influential law makers and heads of state and conservation societies along with a number of concerned citizens. All were there to not only recognize the special day, but to discuss the restoration of the Everglades, especially the Southwest portion.

Among the guest speakers of the day were Gary Lytton, Director of RBNERR, Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart of District 25, Zach Zampella, Regional Director for Senator Marco Rubio, Collier County Commissioner Donna Fiala of District 1, Lisa Koehler, Administrator for the Big Cypress Basin, SFWMD, Brad Cornell of the Audubon of Florida and Captain Will Geraghty, a charter fisherman in Naples.

Brad Cornell led the day, introducing speakers such as Donna Fiala who Cornell described as, “one of the first leaders in Collier County to recognize the importance of participating in the Gulf Restore Act.”

Commissioner Fiala speaks as RBNERR Director Gary Lytton (left) and Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart listen.

Commissioner Fiala speaks as RBNERR Director Gary Lytton (left) and Florida Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart listen.

Ms. Fiala briefly spoke on her memories, recalling Rookery Bay when her children were young; bringing them out to see the birds and the habitat. “Of course it looks much different today, but this is a very special place for me,” she stated.

Lisa Koehler spoke next with some interesting words on the work going on in the western Everglades. In particular, Koehler discussed the work going on in Picayune Strand. Once slated to be “East Golden Gate Estates,” canals were dug and roads put in, but the development never took place. Since the 1960’s the land has been forever altered, misdirecting the natural flow of water through the Everglades. Lisa discussed a number of other projects in the works for the Big Cypress Basin, all which would consist of redirecting to balance the salinity of the many bays within our areas.

To understand more of the science behind the question of the importance of managing where and how fresh meets salt water in the area was Water Quality Program Manager Christina Panko Graff of RBNERR. After the speeches, all made their way out to the boardwalk where Panko Graff gave a demonstration on water salinity.

Christina Panko Graff describes RBNERR’s water testing within its estuaries.

Christina Panko Graff describes RBNERR’s water testing within its estuaries.

“One of our main research projects is to study how canals and other water control structures that have been put in place due to urban development have effected the amount of freshwater that comes into our estuaries as well as when it comes into the estuaries. Because estuaries are where fresh and salt water meet, we can study this question pretty easily by monitoring how salty is the estuary.”

Using equipment that collects real-time data, RBNERR monitors a number of its estuarine bays to attempt to understand how and where the fresh water needs to flow.

“What our research has found is that in this Picayune Strand area and sort of below it, we have found sort of a “Goldilocks” effect where in this estuary here it’s getting too much fresh water at the wrong time, where this one is not getting enough at all, but this one here is ‘just right,’” explained Panko Graff, pointing to the specific locations on the map.

The Picayune Strand project should effect water flow to the areas Panko Graff explained which means that, “our data is going to be critical in determining the success of this large-scale restoration project.”

This one project alone demonstrates the necessity for the local, state and federal governments, private organizations, companies, land managers and fisheries to come together and work as one for the sake of the Everglades. The Picayune, the estuaries, the sawgrass, mangrove trees and big cypress knees are all a part of a master plan that once flowed and moved together.

And on April 6th, National Everglades Day, the thought and spirit of saving the Glades was alive, flowing between the people in the room like a tidal surge, giving hope to the thought that this once perfect treasure, now so damaged, may one day be healthy again.



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