In 1974, Congress established Big Cypress National Preserve as America’s first National Preserve. The area was saved through a grassroots effort to halt the construction of a massive jetport project, ensuring that the Big Cypress Swamp would be protected and enjoyed for generations. Join the National Park Service and its partners on Dec. 5 and 6 to celebrate this special place.
The celebration begins Friday, Dec. 5, at the Big Cypress Birthday Bash in Naples with live music and dancing to the JJ McCoy Band, 7-10 PM, on the grounds of the Collier County Museum, 3331 Tamiami Trail East. Ticket levels are $75 or $125 per person. The event is hosted by the South Florida National Parks Trust, the official nonprofit partner of Big Cypress National Preserve. Event proceeds benefit SWAMP, the preserve’s curriculum-based education program. The program provides an opportunity for every 6th-grade student in CollierCounty to explore Big Cypress Swamp on a ranger-guided field trip. For tickets, go to:big40birthdaybash.eventbrite.com
The festivities continue Saturday, Dec. 6, 10:30 AM-4:00 PM at the 4th Annual Swamp Heritage Festival in Big Cypress. This free family event provides a venue for individuals and groups with a deep connection to the Big Cypress Swamp an opportunity to share stories of the past and hopes for the future related to this special place. Through living history demonstrations, informative presentations, and exhibits everyone can learn what daily life was and is like in such a remote, and at times, inhospitable place.
The Swamp Heritage Festival takes place at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center, 33000 Tamiami Trail East in Ochopee. For more information on the day’s events and featured guests, go www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/swampheritagefestival.htm, or contact the National Park Service at 239-695-4768.
All tickets for the Big Cypress Birthday Bash include a 2015 Clyde Butcher calendar (retail value $20). The first 100 ticket buyers will also receive a free DVD copy of the acclaimed nature documentary Big Cypress Swamp: The Western Everglades by filmmaker Elam Stoltzfus. Calendars and DVDs will be available for pickup on Saturday at the Swamp Heritage Festival. Clyde and Niki Butcher are scheduled to attend both events and Clyde will be available on Saturday to sign his 2015 calendar.