The Island Country Club transformed their beautiful grounds into an expansive tented area with a carnival theme on Saturday night, February 20, where 110 lucky members and guests enjoyed the crisp outdoors – safely – with their familiar friends and new friends.

The event included imaginative carnival garb worn by guests and staff, clever games, a spirited live auction, and a very tall circus performer on stilts who created balloon extravaganzas for guests to wear. The atmosphere was like champagne bubbles! Supporters of the Marco Island Historical Museum were thrilled to be out enjoying the fresh air and supporting the museum that has brought world-wide attention to Marco Island with its priceless treasures, including the Key Marco Cat.

MIHS Executive Director, Pat Rutledge, greeted participants warmly and staff were “on their game” during the gaming opportunities. For example, there were gift cards stapled on a board and covered by balloons, and when your dart hit the balloon, you would win the gift card, many of which were for $50 to local restaurants – yea! What a great way to support our restaurants, who’ve been so challenged through the last year. 

Another carnival game required that you toss a ring, well, three rings, and fingers crossed that at least one spiraled over the neck of a wine bottle, which would accompany you home for celebration later. Trust me, it’s harder than you think. Plus, I doubt they have the same prizes at a regular carnival so where would one practice?

The Island Club staff outdid themselves with a buffet dinner presentation that satisfied the palates of all attendees. There was fresh seafood, including shrimp, oysters on the half shell, salmon and sushi; fresh vegetables al dente, delicious mac n’ cheese, turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, carved roast beef with gravy or horseradish sauce and more.

As one exited the buffet, a three-tiered dessert table couldn’t be missed. Chocolate delicacies, lemon tarts and other confections lured you back, when your dinner plate was removed, to try just one more. We shared a slice of decadent, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate layer cake and kept glancing at the dessert table still beckoning with additional, quite artistic temptations.

At the conclusion of dinner, Rutledge welcomed guests formally along with kudos to all the MIHS supporters and staff that made the festivities possible.



“I’m here to thank everyone who made this evening the ‘Greatest Event on Marco Island’”. When we began planning last fall for this night, I wasn’t sure that it would actually happen, and yet, here we are. However, we wouldn’t be Under the Big Top without so many people who are passionate and dedicated to our history and to our museum, including our sponsors which include the following: 

Dave and Ellie Everett, Linda Cassens, Rene and Tish Champagne, Aldo and Mary Pat Palombo, The Sandlin Real Estate Offices, The Law Offices of Sam J. Saad III, Bruce Graev Financial Associates, First Florida Integrity Bank, The F-Troop, The Naples Trust Company, FCI Homes, Gulfstream Homes, Ron and Pat Rutledge on Behalf of the Marco Island Historical Society, Tom Morr on Behalf of America’s Boating Club, Marco Island Furniture and Design, Paula Robertson and Associates, and the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort. My heartfelt gratitude for your sincere support of MIHS.”

“Next I want to thank Gala co-chairs Jim and Allyson Richards and the fabulous Gala committee; AL’s Pals Volunteers, Caitlin Benarroch, Sherri Morrison, Heather Otis, Alisha Garcia Pacheco, Susan Pernini, Michelle Richards, Ron Rutledge, and Donna Senica, who have brought magic to the event tonight.”

“Our gracious hosts, the Island Country Club, are embarking on an extensive renovation project that will transform this beautiful club to an even more beautiful club,” Rutledge said. “We thank them for opening their doors to the Historical Society during their transformation: Bob Genirs, President; Bid Bakkar, General Manager; Kurt Beattie, Director of Food & Beverage; Loren Cogswell, Executive Chef; Loren DeKett, Assistant Director of Food and Beverage; Michelle Simon, Executive Sous Chef; Jamie Sullivan, Beverage Manager; Ben Tilley, PGA Head Golf Professional and the superb staff members that are taking such great care of us this evening. Additionally, I want to also acknowledge Mr. Gary Landis, the Chairman and CEO of the Island Country Club Charitable Foundation, whose support of the MIHS is greatly appreciated.”

“Lastly,” Rutledge continued, “but not the least are my thanks to you for attending an event like this when perhaps, your first inclination might have been to stay home. Yet you cared enough about the preservation of Marco Island’s history to attend, be a supporter and friend and most of all, our inspiration. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

The live auction brought out the generosity and active support by our community for the MIHS and its dedication to the history of Marco Island. Guest Auctioneer Jay Zeager, from West Palm Beach, teases and cajoles participants with humor and is sincerely appreciative of the final bids and donations made to the Historical Society. He started off with an enticement to pledge $10,000, which was met by several, then $5,000 with more pledges and so on to $100 at the end. These funds will go far to enhance the programs and incentives to continue the progress of MIHS.

The Too Hot Trio entertained during the evening and guests took advantage of the live music to dance; it’s been a long time since safe, outdoor dancing has been experienced. This group is “hot” – and so were our local dancers – as the fun continued after the dinner and bidding ended. Plus, the spirits procured warmed those who continued dancing.

The big take away from the MIHS event is this; you can have lots of fun while you support an organization of your choice and most importantly, make a difference. Take a tour of the free Marco Island Historical Museum; bring your friends and family to see the value in supporting this historical gem where you live. Once you go, you’ll see it’s worth every penny! Your monetary or volunteer donations (or both!) are appreciated, along with your participation in the outdoor music events, online educational programs, and your own input, which is so valuable. See you there!



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