It’s that time of year again when everything looks so bright and colorful and cheerful! People seem to be friendlier; the kids seem to be excited, and our community is bustling all around. It’s especially pretty at night when darkness sets in and the colorful lights glow with a certain happiness!
- Last week a group from East Naples Civic Association hired a trolley to drive us through Victoria Park to see all the homes lighted up and the people outside greeting us. It was a blustery night, having just finished a torrential rain, so many of the blow-ups on the lawns were laying down and some had turned their lights off for safety reasons, and still, it was a wonderful adventure! When we first got there, not many people braved the storm to get there, but about halfway through more showed up, and then many more. The homeowners were all so friendly and welcoming, some even had little barbeques going in their yard. The lights were outstanding, to say the least! You have to be a special person with a special feeling toward people riding through your neighborhood to live there, but their houses showed they lived there with pride! We have many in our section of town: Marco Island, Goodland, Isles of Capri, and of course East Naples where “Old Lely” always outdoes themselves to greet us with many lights, where Moon Lake always has the most gorgeous trees with lights all the way to the end of the palm fronds. On Marco where many homes are a masterpiece, and then there is Naples Manor, with more lights than most communities have… and it looks lovely! There are a bunch of us who ride in the Christmas Parade each year, and we get to see many spectacular lights displays all over Marco Island! The people lined the streets and have so much holiday spirit that it’s inspiring! There are some things that make our community great!
- Speaking of Naples Manor: the East Naples Civic Association, the E. N. Foundation, the E.N. Kiwanis Club, the Sheriff’s Office, staff and teachers from Parkside Elementary School and the Greater Naples Fire District (it used to be called the East Naples Fire Dept) were all a part of a parade through Naples Manor on a Saturday morning to say “Hi” to the kids, ring the bells, sound the horns, and throw candy to the children, some running out in their pajamas! Many hopped on their bikes and followed us through the Manor while laughing excitedly, and the air was filled with joy. Santa Claus was riding in his sleigh, along with Mrs. Claus. This is something these groups have been doing for over 30 years! Ted Beisler, from The Moorings, has been our chief planner, never once being too busy for us. Naples Lakes Country Club always sends sandwiches and water over for the participants at the end of the parade, and they make the participants feel very special. We want to thank all of these wonderful people for helping us bring joy into these kid’s hearts. They aren’t usually the recipients of gifts and toys that are collected and given to other areas, although these are some of the neediest. I’d love to see the Winter Wine Festival or local organizations target some of these kids for the marvelous gifts they distribute. It seems when some people give for these kids to the Fire Dept., they are taken over to the headquarters between Vanderbilt & Immokalee Rd.
- FOOD: Ever since Bill’s Steak and Seafood closed, people have been mourning the loss of that terrific place where you could eat, dance, imbibe, and just kick back your heels and enjoy. It has been sitting empty ever since, just WAITING for someone to move in and give people a place to go again to enjoy an evening of fun, music, dancing and good food. Well, I’ve heard that a place from 5th Ave. is moving in there and will call it “Fish 41,” and they are hoping to open for the holiday. Whether they make it or not is the concern, but at least there will be an eating establishment there again. Speaking of food, I’ve been told the “Flavors of Brazil” will be opening in the same location as Alvino’s Italian Restaurant, right around the corner from the immensely popular Eurasia Restaurant in the St. Andrews Square shopping center on U. S. 41E at the entrance to Lely Golf Estates. And still speaking of food; a new restaurant called “Off the Rock Tavern” will be opening in the Skillet’s Shopping Center on Collier Blvd. across from VeronaWalk. I’m told that “Off the Rock” relates to Marco Island calling itself The Rock, and these guys are opening another restaurant now OFF the rock. I’m looking forward to trying it when they open. And lastly, for this publication, “Just Houdini” Food Truck is open and doing a fantastic business right at the entrance corner to Hitching Post. No matter when I go by, they are always busy. And in that same shopping center at Hitching Post, a Dollar General is planning on opening a store, along with a Pet Salon!
- You have probably been wondering what all the construction work is doing at the old Thalheimer’s Auction House, which has recently been called The Coliseum. I’ve been informed that a major architect firm, MHK Architects, one of the truly outstanding architectural firms in Collier County, is renovating and upgrading that building, right across the street from the old Little Italy. Very exciting news, to be sure!
- Lastly, with so many storage units opening in this area, there is a positive: they don’t generate traffic, they don’t add to congestion, and they only use a couple employees, so it limits traffic tie-ups; and so few places to shop, we introduced the idea to the other commissioners and to the Growth management Division to strongly suggest the Storage Unit owners to include a first floor dedicated to a restaurant and a few retail shops. That should help their business and should help us who live here. It’s only a suggestion, but hopefully, one that will catch on; not much traffic, yet the uses would also be designed to fit into a neighborhood community.
- The new Race Trac gas station and food store has opened on the corner of U. S. 41E and Shadowlawn/Bayshore Dr. It makes that whole corner look SO much better. It really needed a facelift, and it got a good one.
- Oh! Don’t forget the special Lobster Tail dinner at The Old Marco Pub on Marco Island! $26.95 for two large Maine Lobster Tails and all the trimmings!
With that, Dear Friends, I wish you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah! Hug your family and tell them you love them! That’s a great gift at this time of year.