*The Christmas Island Style Parade was a huge success! Each and every float was outstanding! It would have been difficult to choose one over the other. The marching bands were just as good as those in the Macy’s Day Parade – no kidding! The parade watchers started setting up their food tables and folding chairs early in the day. Neighbors joined neighbors to watch from their driveway chairs and snack on the tempting foods. Children were squealing with delight as the parade slowly rolled down their street with wonderful entertainment. The parade watchers were as much fun to watch as the parade itself, as they dressed for the occasion in their happiest outfits fit for the holiday season. I think people from all of the surrounding islands must have been there as well because the streets and sidewalks and parks along the parade route were thronged with people! The weather was gorgeous with a gentle breeze. You couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s the events like this that make Marco Island great! It’s happiness like this that is the glue of island-wide friendships and support.
*Hats are off to the Marco Island Kiwanis Club for recognizing a tremendous need and responding to it. They already reach out to help the children from Tommy Barfield Elementary School and Manatee Elementary School, but this time they reached deep into the poorest of poor – Shadowlawn Elementary School near Bayshore Drive. This school is at 95% poverty rate, and they are always in need of books for the children to read. The Kiwanians’ main focus is to help children, and when they are children of very little means, the Kiwanians really shine. Recently, the president-elect, Kathleen Reynolds (a previous superintendent of schools up north, who has such a kind heart for every child she’s ever met), Joe Swaja (a true gem of a guy), and yours truly visited Shadowlawn School with a check for $1,500 for books – or anything they are truly in need of – but focusing on books. The joy on the faces of the teachers and children said it all. When we saw the real need for books in the library, we knew we were making a difference in that school. So when the Kiwanis Club holds their Car Show on February 14th, please come, enjoy a great day, eat a lot of hot dogs, hamburgers, popcorn, sodas, and even donate in a donation jar or buy a roll of 50-50 tickets. Every dime you spend goes to helping the children in our community and the surrounding community.
*This little but mighty newspaper, the Coastal Breeze, keeps spreading further and further over the bridge and going north – kind of like throwing a stone in the water and watching the ripple effect, which means I can write more news about the other side of the bridge as well. So, a new restaurant is about to open in the shopping center on the corner of Lakewood Boulevard and U.S. 41E (at the entrance to Sugden Park), and the name is 21 Spices by Chef Asif. In case that name sounds familiar, Chef Asif has been the chef at the Marco Island Hilton for the last 15 years, and has now decided to open his own restaurant where the Café Luna was located…But you should see the difference. Rather late at night, while coming home from another event, I noticed shimmering blue lights inside, so I decided to ride over to see what was happening. I could see a few people inside, but it was 10 PM, so I just looked inside at the beauty that transformed this place from a neighborhood restaurant to what looked like an upscale nightclub! Mac Chaudhry, the general manager of the Hilton on Marco Island, had nothing but raves for this chef and his new venture. That says a lot, in my book. They officially open on December 21st, so I’ll report back and tell you all about it. Right now I can say the address is 4270 Tamiami Trail E, and you can call them for additional information by dialing 239-919-8830 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Smart casual attire is the manner of dress. This is going to be fun, ladies and gentlemen!