While meteorologists are still scanning the horizons for the hint of bad tropical weather and neighbors and friends who left for the summer are packing up their bags for the return to the island and its tropical breezes, a dedicated group of volunteers are making plans for the 24th annual Christmas Island Style series of events.
Each year the events grow to encompass a number of endeavors by various groups and organizations. This year the new theatrical group on the island will be joining in under the CIS umbrella of events according to board member Kris Hodgton. The Island Players will present “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” on December 8, 9 and 10th at the Rose Hall at the Marco Historical Society for the enjoyment of Marco Islanders and guests.
In addition there will be a special event held at the Historical Marco Church which will celebrate the oldest church on Marco Island and will pay tribute to Marion Blomeier who helped to start organized Christmas events for the island in the early 70’s, soon after she and her husband moved to Marco and bought the Old Marco Inn.
The Christmas Island Style series of events is completely self sufficient and raises the necessary monies through fund raisers such as the Knights of Columbus Christmas Spaghetti Dinner, a charity golf tournament, a 50/50 held at Stan’s in Goodland, a Jazz Fest on the Bay at CJ’s at the Esplanade and personal donations by individuals and businesses.
“Marco Island has always been very gracious, even during difficult times,” said CIS Chairman Steve “Stef” Stefanides; “we couldn’t do this without the help of our business community and the philanthropy of wonderful individuals.” He was also quick to add how much he appreciated the cooperation he receives from the city staff, especially the recreation and parks department, along with police and fire personnel who work hand in hand with CIS during the holidays.
The CIS events are more than just parades and parties though, in the last several years, this group has worked with the churches and school resource officers to identify families in need to provide for holiday dinners, clothing and yes, a toy or two for those with a temporary need.
Stefanides and board member, Joe Granda, are adamant about meeting some of those basic needs. “The parties and the fun sometimes don’t spill over to those under difficult circumstances and we have a responsibility to help where we can,” said Granda.
A full calendar of events, registration forms and photo albums can be found online at www.christmasislandstyle.com or watch for the calendar of events and articles in your local publications.