By Samantha Husted
Despite construction and limited parking, hundreds came out to Mackle Park to participate in the annual Souper Bowl event.
The Souper Bowl, now in its fifth year, is a Marco Island Chamber of Commerce organized event. Traditionally the Souper Bowl takes place the Saturday before the actual Super Bowl, an event that is notably lacking in soup.
Though the Marco Island Souper Bowl did not include a performance by Lady Gaga, hundreds came out to sample the soups that were provided by nine local restaurants. Among the crowd were city councilors, firefighters, police officers and other notable community officials.
“The participation from the community in general is just phenomenal,” said Marco Island Chamber of Commerce President Alex Parker III. “So much of this money goes right back to the high school students in the area.”
The event benefits the Marco Island Chamber of Commerce Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund. Each year a handful of local high school students are rewarded the scholarship based on their academic merits. In 2016 Leadership Marco presented eight students with a combined $20,000.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than having our businesses, our schools, and having our community out here to support this event all for the good of scholarships for our Marco Island kids,” said Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dianna Dohm.
Over 1,000 glazed ceramic bowls sat glistening in the sun outside of the Mackle Park playground. Event goers perused the tables, picking up bowls and setting them down until they found the right one.
“It looks like a Monet painting to me,” said Pat Blanco of her bowl. Pat is a visitor to the island and the Souper Bowl.
Every year local Tommie Barfield Elementary School (TBE) students are tasked with painting the bowls. Students from each grade are given total creative control. The result? Vibrant bowls in surprising hues, scrawled signatures, and attempted but not quite accomplished symmetry. Bowls that look like Monet paintings and bowls that you’re not sure what to make of, but appreciate the effort.
After participants picked their bowls, they made their way to the Mackle Park airnasium, where nine local restaurants were set up. New this year was seafood restaurant Pinchers, with their signature crab and corn chowder.
“We heard about this through the Chamber. They knew that we were new to the island, so we thought we’d give it a try!” said Jarrod Cain of Pinchers.
Also new to the event and the island was Maia, the JW Marriott’s newest eatery. For the Souper Bowl, Maia provided a kale and quinoa minestrone. They also passed out small cards with the recipe and instructions so that participants could make the soup themselves.
Petit Soleil, on the other hand, has been participating in the Souper Bowl since it’s inception five years ago.
“It’s a great community event. Everyone loves it, it’s a beautiful day, what more could you ask for?” said Lisa Meurgue of Petit Soleil and Bistro Soleil.
The Petit Soleil crew always brings cream of wild mushroom soup to the event, and with good reason. The creamy soup, topped with fried onions, is a favorite among Souper Bowl goers. Their booth always had a line.
After all the soup had been consumed, participants left feeling full and ready for the big game the following day.
For more information on the Leadership Marco Scholarship Fund contact 239-394-7549.