What a wonderful Christmas Island Style parade it was! The floats were especially joyful, the music was great, and the crowds were larger than we ever remember! Everyone in the parade was talking about it – including noting we’ve never seen so many children. There were rows and rows of entries lining many streets as they staged for the event. From our vantage point, it looked like no one missed this parade. Now THAT is community spirit! But then, that’s Marco Island! And a special thanks to the lady with the cute, lighted head ornament hat that she had on, and then ran out to the parade to give to us. I don’t even know her name, but she was just darling. Thank you from all of us!
• Did you notice that people seemed to be decorating earlier this year? It is my opinion that we all needed a happy, cheerful atmosphere after having to overcome the destruction of Irma; and the decorations seemed to bring that spirit to the holidays. On my street, there were more decorations than I ever remember. And did you see that house close to the Marco Island Historical Museum? Wow it was spectacular, but then many were!
• The East Naples Merchants Association bought, delivered, and handed out tennis shoes to the fifth graders at Manatee Elementary School. The children looked delighted with their new shoes. That was a gift that will keep on giving for months.
• The Marco Island Kiwanis Club purchased hundreds of dollars of gifts for the children at Manatee Elementary School. Every December since 2004, this club has provided a gift to every child at Manatee Elementary School, personally presented by Santa and Mrs. Claus. Additionally, they provide gift cards to certain children from Tommie Barfield Elementary School and Marco Island Charter Middle School. This year the distribution took place on Monday, December 18th, with many members participating in the shopping, delivery and distribution.
• Speaking of Christmas gifts – the Goodland people were delighted with the gift of an upgraded road — 92A. It looks smooth, beautiful, and the stripes on the road during this dark winter are just what the island needed for safety in getting home at night. The county wants to remind the residents that this is only a temporary fix, although it looks so great. It will take a couple years for all the permits to be received so that we can build a new, improved, elevated road to Goodland, which will provide room for the tidal waters (after many studies are approved, and permits received) to flow to each side of the road to the mangroves at the proper level so as not to drown one side or the other, yet not starve any of the mangroves either. It will be a very carefully designed road to benefit everyone, but it takes time. Until then though folks, it’s a great, smooth, well-marked road for you to enjoy. Merry Christmas from all of us at Collier County and Marco Island to all the users who live, visit and celebrate in Goodland.
• You might have read about the new charitable agency that Myra Daniels created to help the underserved children in East Naples called Latchkey League. (Yes, I’ve joined them as well.) I went to their luncheon this past week and was delighted to see Myra and all of her charm. The president of Latchkey League is Betty Bailey, and lo and behold, I knew Betty years ago when I worked for NCH in the community outreach position. Latchkey League parties are dedicated to individuals in our community who believe in helping children. All proceeds from these events go to serve children through after-school programs in Collier County. All attendees receive a tax deduction for their contributions to support these special parties. Their website is latchkeyleague.org. One event that was held was “All That Glitters,” sponsored by Bigham Jewelers with “Diamonds, Wine and Hors d’oeuvres” and another was “Delicate Designs in Flowers” hosted by Steven Bowles Creative, from Blooms Naples and Bloom Flower Bar. Some events coming up are: “Roaring Twenties Affair” sponsored by Arthex, Naples Illustrated, and Tamiami Ford, Hyundai & Genesis. Myra Daniels and Lynette Merillat will be co-chairing this event (if you haven’t seen Myra in a while, you’ll want to attend for sure, but the tickets sell out quickly) on Tuesday, January 16th at the Vineyards Country Club. There’s a “MahJongg Madness” coming up, as well as “Some Like It Hot,” “Dealing Those Cards”(Bridge), “Kentucky Derby Run for the Roses,” and so much more. The names of supporters and chairmen will truly impress you. One thing that impresses me is their devotion to helping children.
Right now, for the kids in this area of town, it’s the social service organizations that help these kids, like Kiwanis and Rotary, thankfully, but it will be nice to have someone else come on board to help that is devoted to helping those children from a rather deprived situation in life. The Latchkey League mission states: It is the mission of the Latchkey League, Inc., to support and provide educational, cultural and recreational services to the children in the greater Naples area who are in need of after-school supervision and activities, and to promote educational development for their future. Did you remember that Myra started on Marco Island?
• The Friends of the Fakahatchee held a “Welcome Back Luncheon” for the folks coming back to Collier County for the winter. These people are the friends and volunteers that help the park staff with all the things that need to be done in a 100 square mile preserve. Did you know that the Fakahatchee Strand State Park has more native varieties of orchids than any other place in the United States? Right now the park is in the design and permitting phase for a parking area and a turn lane into the park’s famous boardwalk that plunges into North America’s only remaining jungle, where panthers and alligators can sometimes be seen. Thanks to the help of Rep. Bob Rommel and Senator Kathleen Passidomo, they were able to obtain a $3.1 million grant to move forward with this long-awaited and wellplanned improvement. So many people have no idea of all the wildlife and flora and fauna that awaits them when they leave the inhabited area of Collier County. It’s right around the corner on U.S. 41 E. from where we all live, and for us to see in all of its glory.
• And for the last Christmas cheerful story, the Annual Santa Run was held on December 16th and sponsored by the East Naples Civic Association, the East Naples Kiwanis Club, the East Naples Sheriff’s Substation, the Greater Naples Fire Department, Parkside Elementary School teachers and students, and the beautiful Lely High School K-Club members, while Santa and Mrs. Claus came riding in their sleigh to distribute candy to all of the children in Naples Manor. The kids were squealing with delight, laughing and dancing, some still in their pajamas, some on their bikes, with parents and families all smiling and happy. I believe this is the 29th year this parade has been held, and it is still ever so popular.