The folks at the Marco Island Yacht Club know how to throw a party. An enthusiastic showing of 117 members gathered at the yacht club, at the foot of the Judge Jolley Bridge, on May 1 to celebrate the Kentucky Derby. The ladies came through with a stunning array of Derby hats. The men were grandstand worthy, too, with outfits that would make any filly take notice.
The festivities started at 5:00 PM with committee members hustling to make sure the event lived up to the event it celebrates.
Dick Pantano and John Steeves were selling engraved bricks that will become part of the courtyard walkway linking the clubhouse to the new Riverside Marina. The bricks commemorate the 20th anniversary of the modern Marco Island Yacht Club. The original yacht club, a modest facility compared to today’s showplace, entertained islanders in the 1960s, 70s and 80s on the same prime real estate, located at the gateway to the island.
Today’s Yacht Club was purchased by the members from developer Jack Antaramian in 2001. The club is undergoing an expansion and is enjoying good times. They are adding 21 new slips to accommodate larger vessels.
“We have 21 slips going in,” said John Holt of the Marco Island Yacht Club. “The construction is happening now. We hope to be completed in the fall. We’ll have some bigger slips for some of the larger boats that are out there these days. Some slips with lifts for the boats that like to have the outboard motors now. We’ll have slips that can handle some of those larger boats.”
The Derby party is five years old.
“We’ve been doing this for the past five years,” Holt said. “It gives the members a chance to come out and have some fun. We call it hats and horses. People bring their hats. We have a little friendly wagering going on. The proceeds from that helps the Mariners’ Fund, a fund that we use here at the Yacht Club for special events.”
The Yacht Club was purchased from developer Jack Antaramian.
“He decided to sell the club,” said Don Mills, 96, the original commodore of the modern yacht club. “Me and four other members met with Antaramian and negotiated a deal. We bought the club for five million dollars. We got the money by asking 200 people to give us $25,000.”
“Antaramian said to me, ‘You’ll never come up with the money.’ He was a very difficult negotiator. He didn’t want to sell us any slips. I was able to convince him to give us 10. I said, ‘Let’s negotiate this.’ He said, ‘I don’t negotiate.’ But he did. We got it for five million in 2001. Everything – including the wine cellar – which was loaded with good wine.”