It’s always exhilarating to wake up in Goodland with sunny Old Florida waterscapes punctuated by the cries of ospreys or the splashes of brown pelicans diving for their dinner. At the end of the day, it is relaxing and restful to turn out the lights at night, knowing that all will be quiet and peaceful, lit only by the moon and stars, undisturbed by the hum of traffic. For pure fun however, nothing beats the bash that the Goodland Civic Association (GCA) throws for members of the community each March. It is styled “Spring Fling” and has far and away become Goodland’s best attended, best liked social event of the year. This year it happened between 12 and 3pm, Saturday, March 28.
For years, the GCA has tried to safeguard our Goodland way of life and to make sure we have a seat at the table when Collier County makes decisions concerning us. In order to survive, the GCA runs various fundraisers throughout the year. The proceeds are used mostly to maintain our Community Center used for town meetings and various activities. This building, a former firehouse, is expensive to maintain. We also raise money from GCA membership dues. Fortunately our membership has been steadily growing as has participation in our fundraisers and activities. It takes a lot of volunteer hours to keep the GCA up and running.
In February, 2013, GregBello, a retired maxillofacial surgeon, was elected president of the GCA. Greg brought a lot of warmth and energy to the GCA board and had put in many volunteer hours for the community. Greg hit the ground running and quickly proposed and then organized a town picnic or cookout, to be held the very next month – March 2013. Because of his warmth and enthusiasm, Greg has always been able to galvanize a large corps of volunteers to help out in all GCA events. The first event was so successful that it has been repeated every year since.
Greg’s idea was for the GCA to show appreciation and gratitude for the support of these volunteers and that of the community. The Spring Fling was simply to be a day of eating, jawing, and relaxing. All were welcome. No donations would be asked of the attendees, just that they bring their appetites. Food and soft drinks would be provided and served; music would be provided by local professional musicians; and even the raffle tickets would be handed out at no charge, with prizes to the winners. The setting for all this was to be the beautiful pavilion at Margood Park, one of the public parks constructed in Goodland by Collier County. The pavilion is set in a beautiful shady and grassy area with ample room for picnic and serving tables. It sits invitingly in theleafy heart of Goodland.
The first Spring Fling was a hit and, thanks to the volunteers, cost very little to put on. Goodland is blessed with four popular local restaurants which donated all the food. Our resident musicians performed pro bono throughout. GCA volunteers handled all activities.
As with previous years, all of Goodland got behind this one. They brought their friends, guests, relatives and grandchildren and pitched in to set things up and keep things moving. The food was donated by our renowned Goodland restaurants – The Little Bar (hotdogs), Marker 8.5 (hamburgers), Olde Marco Lodge (pasta and potato salad), and Stan’s (French and sweet potato fries). Kirk’s Fish Market brought over some pretty good fish dip. Gift certificates and raffle prizes were donated by all of the above and by Walker’s Marina, Goodland Boat Park Ship’s Store, and Island Woman Gift Shop. Merrill Allen, a Goodland resident and frequent performer at the Little Bar provided the music.
This year’s event was bursting at the seams. Greg Bello estimates total attendance at about 250 people, most of them alternately chattering and eating or reuniting with old friends. And so ended another successful and busy season in Goodland, giving us another reason to love the place where we live.
Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years. Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association