Some of you know that I have very close ties to the Ohio Amish community, so I’d like to tell you of a recent experience up there. I was visiting with my Amish friends and drove us all to the Berlin Firemen’s Festival, a fund raising effort held every year. The Firemen (all volunteer firemen) raise money to buy equipment by hosting this Festival and earlier in the year a Firemen’s Fish Fry. They cook all the Barbeque Chickens, and serve them with cole slaw, salad, chips, rolls and homemade pie. There is no charge; it is a free-will donation. They also make delicious ice cream which they sell. A few food vendors are present, plus a climbing wall and bungee jumping for the kids. A water pressure contest is a lively part of the evening, and various musical groups (mostly gospel and country music) perform all evening. There is an auction for a few items with the main item being a handmade quilt. This year that quilt drew almost $4,000. Approximately 2,000 people attended from the local community including Amish, Mennonite, English, school officials, elected officials, teachers, young people and retirees, all taking pleasure in each other’s company, sharing stories, enjoying the music, eating at the long tables together, meeting old friends and making new friends.
As I sat there, I thought of Marco Island. That’s probably one of the biggest assets of living on Marco Island………..the Community Spirit. From the St. Paddy’s Day Parade to the Christmas Tree Lighting, to all the many festivals and celebrations. These events bring us closer together and weave us into a strong community, working together for the benefit of our Island. Not many communities have this positive force that unites them. Even in the summer, when the numbers are down we still have fun events to enjoy together to keep that community spirit alive and well. As you read this column let’s count our blessings that we have this community spirit, this Island and these friends to share our lives. I know I count my blessings to be a part of Marco Island.