Thursday, December 30, 2010

Turtles, tortoises and terrapins among 15 species found on island

One of the newest programs featured by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF), entitled "The Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins of Sanibel and Captiva," explains the lifecycle of some of the islands most intriguing inhabitants, how they have survived through millions of years and how miraculous some of these shelled creatures really are.

Dee Serage-Century, SCCF's Living With Wildlife Education Director, told a standing room only crowd on Tuesday about many of the 15 documented turtle species found on Sanibel and Captiva, beginning with a video of newborn sea turtles swimming in the Gulf waters.

"They will be swimming now until forever, until they come ashore to lay their eggs," said Serage-Century, pointing to the video screen. "The Foundation has invested in the protection of nesting sea turtles on Sanibel for a long time."

Monitoring sea turtle nesting on Sanibel and Captiva began at SCCF in 1992, continuing the work of Charles LeBuff. Since the late 1980s, gopher tortoise populations have been closely monitored. 

SCCF's Johnson Track and Frannie’s Preserve are managed for the foraging needs of this species increasing their populations. Habitat management has surveyed the preserved interior wetlands compiling species lists of all island freshwater turtles. 

During her presentation, Serage-Century explained that the temperature of sea turtle nests will determine what sex the babies will be. She also detailed the various body parts of turtles — including the carapace (top) and plastron (bottom) of the reptiles — as well as what methods they incorporate for breathing, digging and flipping over.

The turtle's shell is beneficial in many ways, she noted. It not only provides protection against predators, but it also helps regulate internal temperature, absorbing lactic acid and preventing dehydration.

Other facts provided by Serage-Century during the 45-minute program:

• Leatherbacks can dive to 3,300 feet, carry twice as much oxygen in their blood than other sea turtles and have a very high metabolism

• Walking helps snapping turtles draw in air to breathe

• Soaking in the sun assists turtles in synthesizing Vitamin D and helps reduce the growth of algae and parasites

• Tortoises can go without water for up to six months, storing moisture in its bladder

Chris Lechowicz, staff herpetologist at SCCF, includes 15 different varieties of turtles found on the islands. They include the Florida softshell turtle, loggerhead, green, Kemp's Ridley, leatherback, Florida snapping, Florida chicken, ornate diamondback terrapin, Florida redbelly, peninsula cooter, Florida box, red-eared slider, yellowbelly slider, striped mud and gopher tortoise.

The SCCF Nature Center now has a tank with live hatchlings of peninsula cooter, Florida softshell, red-eared and yellowbelly sliders, Florida and striped mud turtles as well as a snapping turtle, found by an islander in a hot tub this past summer.

Three diamondback terrapins are featured in a new 220-gallon tank at the Nature Center. This saltwater species lives in the brackish water of the mangrove creeks where they forage on shrimp, fiddler crabs and anything else they can dig up.

Answering questions from the audience, Serage-Century stated that during last winter's elongated cold snap, a number of sea turtles were rescued in island waters. They were placed in tanks until the water temperatures rose above 56 degrees.

"I think we only lost one of them," she added. "We did pretty well."

For additional information, call SCCF at 472-2329.

Weekly Island Jazz performances are back for season

On Tuesday, Island Jazz began their highly anticipated season with a Dixieland performance at Ellington’s.

But if you missed it, drummer and “denmother” Tom Cooley says there will be plenty of opportunities in the months ahead to experience the sounds of what has quickly become an island tradition.

Island Jazz, now in their 6th season, is made up of Harry Reiner on trumpet, Gene Federico on guitar and vocals, and Tom Cooley on drums. Many of the Island Jazz regulars, including Rusty Kupsaw on bass, Louis Pradt on reeds and flute, Babe Van De Velde on tenor sax and Bill Johns on bass, are island residents or former island residents.

“We like to keep it with classic jazz music. We do a lot from the 1930s and 1940s. We know the older people are familiar with it, but we want to introduce it to the younger audiences,” Cooley said. “We see music as a gift that we give to the community.”

Island Jazz formed after Cooley’s group Satin Jazz, for which he was also the drummer, disbanded.

“Rusty Kupsaw and I wanted to continue making music together, so we started looking for new players,” Cooley said.

He found Harry Reiner, the Island Jazz music director and trumpet player, and guitarist and vocalist Gene Federico, and then approached BIG ARTS with an idea.

“That was our first venue. I just asked BIG ARTS if we could give it a try in the Boler Garden on Sunday afternoons. It’s been a big success and it’s brought people to BIG ARTS that aren’t members. Sometimes we’ll have 300 people there,” Cooley said.

In addition to their weekly Sunday performances at 3 p.m., Island Jazz supplies the Community House with big band and dance music every Monday evening at 6 p.m. and will now provide Ellington’s patrons with Dixieland selections every Thursday night at 7 p.m.

“The purpose of the band is to bring the community together and let them enjoy the music. The band is indirectly tied to BIG ARTS and other community groups, and I like to Island Jazz as a community resource — were not in it to make money,” Cooley said. “All proceeds to the band go to local charities and service organizations, like the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. So instead of paying the band, the money will go to a good cause.”JANE BRICKLEY

Modulators return to ’Tween Waters to celebrate Crow’s Nest 30th anniversary

For the last 20 years, the Modulators have made their annual pilgrimage from Cincinnati to Captiva to rock the Crow’s Nest the first two weeks of January — and 2011 will be no different. 

The Modulators are Mike Grathwohl (guitar and vocals), Mark Rasmussen (sax and vocals), Michael Barrett (bass and vocals), Dave McMahan (keyboards and vocals), Steve Sailer (drums), Jimmy Nolan (trombone and vocals), Chris Miller (trumpet and vocals) and Gus Thierry (percussion).

“We are always pleased to have the Modulators back at the Crow's Nest. Not 

only do I get to stay up later than normal, I also get to see a lot of old

friends who have been around here for 30-plus years like me!” said ’Tween Waters General Manager Jeff Shuff.

But for 2011, Mandy Gaines — a full time Modulator in the 1990s — will reunite with the band after spending years performing all over the world. 

“It’s great to be able to come back with the Modulators — it’s like a reunion,” Gaines said. “I’m looking forward to being back on Captiva — it’s a family and friends kind of thing.”

And as an additional cause for celebration, Gaines’ and the Modulators’ stay will coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Crow’s Nest. A special party will be held to celebrate on Jan. 8.

“If you were here in the 1980s, the Crow's Nest was the hot spot for live 

entertainment on the islands as well as the mainland. Most of the acts were from out of state and some went on to regional and even national fame. Tim Jardis, who was the lounge manager at the time booked the groups and has supplied us with cassettes — remember those? — featuring recordings of many bands from that time,” Shuff said. “The night of the party, we will be playing songs, for those who remember, from Dr. Hector & the Groove Injectors, The Truly Dangerous Swamp Band, The Daves, Lucky Peterson, Nappy Brown, Steve Guidus, John Salamon and others. It will be a Blast!”

The Modulators will perform Dec. 31 through Jan. 15.

Show times are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. to midnight, and Friday and Saturday, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Gaines will perform at the Crow’s Nest on New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Jan. 4-8 and Jan. 11-15. By JANE BRICKLEY

Polar Bears reunite New Year’s Day for 11th anniversary

No, it’s not binary code — it’s the date of the first Sanibel-Captiva Polar Bear Plunge. The date of this year’s plunge — 01/01/11 — marks the 11th anniversary of the annual event that draws hundreds of veteran and aspiring Polar Bears to Tarpon Bay Beach every New Year’s Day. 

The first Polar Bear Plunge drew only 29 people. But in 2009, a record turnout of 232 Polar Bears — ranging from "Cubbies" (first-timers), to "Juveniles" (one-time previous dippers) and seasoned "Adult" bears — took to the Gulf waters on New Year's Day as part of the popular island event.

“Papa Bear” John Carney, who’s organized the event since 2001, is an accomplished Polar Bear. 

“There are Polar Bear clubs everywhere — I’ve done it in Lake Erie, Lake Michigan, Russia, Norway, the Great Barrier Reef,” Carney said, noting that Norway was his coldest location, Sanibel the warmest. 

“It’s a memorable experience and people seem to have a good time — some come from out of town every year. I love seeing the little kids look up from the membership cards with those smiles they have on their face,” Carney said. “It’s nothing but pure fun and a way to bring in the new year in a silly, fun way. That’s what it’s all about — starting the year on a positive note.”

On New Year’s Day at noon, the meeting will begin with the singing of the traditional Polar Bear anthem, after which, the Polar Bears will brave the icy Gulf waters backwards, facing the crowd of supporters, on-lookers, tourists and “mice.”

“There have been times, usually when the weather is bad, that the crowd of mice — those who wished they had the courage to join in — have outnumbered the Polar Bear participants. They like to bring their chairs and watch us and we give them lots of entertainment,” Carney said.

Everyone brave enough to take the plunge will receive a free membership card and a certificate. 

“You feel really great when you’re done. People come out of the water and dry off, they try on the shell pith helmet and take pictures and everyone gets a sip of champagne from the big glass,” Carney said. “We never know what the weather is going to be like — but we do it anyway — and many islanders, after 10 years of guilt and shame, have finally pledged to come out on New Year’s Day.”

The 11th annual Polar Bear Plunge is open to everyone and is free. Parking for 89 cars is available at the city lot on Tarpon Bay Road — but don’t forget to display a current new sticker or pay the parking fee.

Sign-in begins at 11 a.m. and the meeting begins at noon. Tarpon Bay Beach is located at the south end of Tarpon Bay Road.

For more information, contact John Carney at 395-1767.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oldest island hostelry boasts newest operations manager

Chris Davison, the new Vice President of Operations at the Island Inn, came on board at the Inn this past June and, since then, has been a very busy young man. The Board of Directors recruited him from Florida Gulf Coast University, essentially, straight out of the class room. In fact, he’s still taking on line classes, mostly in resort management, hospitality and finance. But he says he gets along well with this mostly middle-aged or older board — probably because revenues have been going up ever since he came on board.

The Inn is the oldest hostelry on the island, having been started — largely as a boarding house with meals — by Hallie Matthews in 1895 on one of the widest tracts (550 feet) of beachfront on the island. It was always a spot to which relatively wealthy Northerners came for the winter, not just for a few days vacation — often joined by their children and later their grandchildren. But, generally speaking, those days are gone forever — at least for vast majority of the 21st Century population.

The problem arises when trying to bridge that gap — the Inn was still geared to that and didn’t have the experience or really even the know-how to go after other types of clientele… Time for a change, time for a new strategy… time to look for new blood that’s trained in the Hospitality business, has a vision, and goes after it. Time for a Chris Davison.

Whereas the Inn had been operated more as a club than a business, Davison convinced the board that it needed a business plan… He created one and they approved it. “The board needed a vision and a mission statement,” Davison said. “They needed to know what they wanted and how to convey that to an ‘outsider’ (me) coming in with the desire to help, to lead, to assist them in achieving their goals.”

With only 49 different lodging options that include cottages and hotel rooms (all with ocean views) and on on-site restaurant/bar on a 10-acre piece of property, its low-density and family orientation, its history and traditions, and its superior beach access — the Inn’s major goal, as Davison saw it, was to have guests embrace the relaxed island atmosphere, customer service and olde Florida charm.

Another point Davison insists on is that staff be governed by the famous Dale Carnegie quote: “‘Give people what they want,’ and integrating that with warm southern hospitality to lift our service above that of its competitors.” He holds weekly brainstorming/feedback meetings with the staff to not only encourage them in their pursuit of the overall goals, but to build morale and create a positive working environment. His ideas must be working… Unbelievably, the Inn was mostly full in October!

While old-timers still come back — often — most of the guests now are brand new or returning new guests, often the result of Davison’s increased focus on getting as much information as possible out on the Inn’s website which now has a webcam pointing directly at those 550 feet of beach sand, water and wavelets.

Another strategy Davison is implementing is to ask guests to fill out a short questionnaire at check-out and offering a discount at completion, and/or to leave a review of their stay on Trip Advisor (or a similar site).. The use of Facebook is another part of the Inn’s daily operating procedures. The Inn has made sure to strengthen its relations with the finest international tour operators in order to secure an increasing number of international guests who have an affinity for the Island Inn’s offerings. Davison has also focused on strategic partnership with companies like Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline. By utilizing these corporations’ superior marketing power, he has been able to increase bookings through travel agents by over 200%!

And this year, the Inn is partnering with Andrea Mucciga, former operator of such island favorites as The Riviera, Dolce Vita and Bellini’s, to run the food and beverage operations. “He will be operating Traditions on the Beach, soon to be upgraded with a full-service bar and on- and off-site catering. We are very excited about the prospect of working with Andrea — who shares Island Inn’s passion for value-added guest services and our tradition, and has a true appreciation for Sanibel and its residents.”

It sounds as if Davison eats, sleeps and breathes Island Inn (when he’s not in class! and he’s probably applying newly assimilated knowledge to the Inn then, too!)… but no. He loves to fish (“After work I grab a rod and fish off the beach as often as I can,” he says). He loves sports and his boat and knows the waterways around here well. He plays softball at the Rec Center. He’s single, his mother lives in town, and he’s always loved Sanibel. “This is the real Florida,” he says. “The Island Inn sells itself.”

Sanibel New Year's Eve 2010

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Island Jazz begins new season at three venues

Island Jazz is back and the band will open the season with three performances right after Christmas.

Island Jazz features Harry Reiner on trumpet, Gene Federico on guitar and vocals, and Tom Cooley on drums. Many of the Island Jazz regulars, including Rusty Kupsaw (bass), Louis Pradt (reeds and flute), Babe Van De Velde (tenor sax), and Bill Johns (bass), are island residents or former island residents. 

Island Jazz Dixie will play your Dixieland favorites at Ellington’s Restaurant and Jazz Club, located at 1244 Periwinkle Way, beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 28. All proceeds to the band will go to local charities and service organizations. For reservations, call 472-5555.

On Sunday, Jan. 2, at BIG ARTS, located at 900 Dunlop Road, for your listening pleasure, Island Jazz will present the first of their regular Sunday concerts in the Boler Garden, beginning at 3 p.m. This is the band’s sixth season at BIG ARTS. Seating is limited, so bring your beach chairs. All concerts and parking are free. Don’t miss this island musical tradition.

Then on Monday, Jan. 3 at the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way, please join Island Jazz Dance Band for the first of the season’s Monday night dinner-dances at Sanibel’s historic community center. Dinner begins at 6 p.m., followed by dancing at 7 p.m. For dinner reservations, call 472-2155. You do not have to attend the dinner to attend the dance. Walk-ins are welcome.

Mark your calendars for the following Island Jazz events:

• BIG ARTS Sunday afternoons (beginning at 3 p.m.): Jan. 2 and 23; Feb. 6, 13 and 20; March 13 and 27; April 3, 17 and 24.

• Sanibel Community House Monday night dances (following dinner at 6 p.m.): Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31; Feb. 7 and 14 (Island Jazz Big Band); March 7, 14, 21 and 28; April: To be announced.

• Ellington’s (beginning at 7 p.m.): Dec. 28; Jan. 6, 13, 20 and 27.
Special to the REPORTER
Bringing the gift of music to the people, Island Jazz is the most technically precise and grammatically correct band on the island. For more information, call the band’s denmother, Tom Cooley, at 472-8568.

Sea School prepares to launch 'recycled' vessel

Since October, students, staff and volunteers at Sanibel Sea School have been collecting hundreds of empty plastic bottles. Not just in an effort to increase awareness about the importance of recycling, but for an even greater purpose: to create their own boat.

On Thursday, Dec. 30 at approximately 1:30 p.m. – depending on how the wind blows, literally – the pupils at Camp Calypso will be launching their homemade sea-worthy vessel — T/S Calypso — made entirely out of plastic bottles, old fishing nets, recycled citrus bags and salvaged sailboat parts. 

"We started putting everything together last week," said Sea School founder Dr. Bruce Neill. "The kids have been stuffing plastic bottles for the pontoons. The fishing nets are full of plastic bottles!"

According to Dr. Neill, the two-week project is being carried out as a tribute to famed explorer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau, one of the forefathers of marine discovery and undersea exploration for a whole new generation. 

"It's important that our children learn about Cousteau through his sense of wonderment and discovery," he said. "That's what the Sanibel Sea School is all about."

While the students have been busy with gathering plastic bottles and painting pennants to decorate the boat, adults at the school have been doing some light construction work on the ship's platform. Dr. Neill estimated the project is nearing the final stages of construction, and will perform at "test launch" on Wednesday afternoon. 

"We have been ingenious enough to figure out how to make it float (we hope)… and we are determined to draw attention to the saga of plastic pollution in our oceans," a Sea School press release stated.

The 16-foot long by 12-foot wide vessel will be able to carry one or two adult and five to seven children at one time. Following next week's historic maiden voyage of the T/S Calypso from Sanibel Causeway Island A (closest to the mainland), Dr. Neill hopes that the boat becomes a permanent part of the Sea School fleet.

"It will be a terrific Huck Finn-type of raft that our students will be able to take out from time to time during our camp programs," he added.

For those islanders with young ocean explorers – and boat designers – aged 6 to 13, there are still a few slots open for next week's Holiday Camp, taking place Dec 27-31. Call 472-8585 for more information.

Dr. Neill and the school's staff are very grateful for the help of so many – from those who have donated plastic bottles, including the children at The Sanibel School, to Bailey’s General Store, The Bait Box, Ralph Woodring, Soon Come Contract Hauling and Soon Come Landscaping, Sun Harvest Citrus and Shoreline Lumber – and appreciate all of their support in this project. 

"Our red wool watch caps are off to all of you for your help!"

Sanibel Sea School is a Sanibel-based non-profit foundation whose vision is a world where people better understand, value and care for the ocean. 

"I think our students have learned just how much plastic is wasted and how much of it gets into the ocean," Dr. Neill added. "They will have a better understanding about ways we can reduce our plastic usage. That is ultimately what conservation is all about." By JEFF LYSIA
For additional information, visit

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sanibel service organizations come together on New Year's Eve

Some of the island's service organizations are preparing to serve guests gathered at the Second Annual City of Sanibel New Year's Eve Party, scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 31 at the Sanibel Recreation Center.

Standing from left is Allan Silberman (Parks & Recreation Committee, The Rocks Association and Co-Captain of 50/50 Raffle), Dick Muench (Kiwanis and Captain of Hot Food), Mike Miller (Sanibel Bike Club and Captain of Bingo) and Richard Johnson (Lions and Captain of Cold Food) Seated from left is Annie Nachtsheim (Zonta and Captain of Beverages and Deserts), Barry Alan Roth (Kiwanis and Event Chair), Joan Silberman (Zonta and Co-Captain of 50/50 Raffle) and Don Von Alstyne (Kiwanis and Captain of Parking).

The menu for our New Year's Eve Party includes all-you-can-eat chicken fingers, Dietz & Watson Deli, fruit and veggie trays, cheese and pepperoni pizza, hot dogs, mini donuts, root beer floats, Coca-Cola and Diet Coke, gourmet coffee and hot tea, freshly squeezed juices, water, Dilly Bars, chips, pretzels and cake.

Advance tickets to attend the party, available only at the Rec Center, are $15 for adults (18 and older) and $12 for children. Kids 6 and under are free. At the door, the cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children.

For more information, contact Barry Alan Roth at 313-9591 or the Sanibel Recreation Center at 472-0345.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Begins @ 8:00 p.m.  FOOD & REFRESHMENTS
8:15 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
8:30 p.m. – 11:45 p.m.
Sponsor: Sanibel Captiva Trust Company
8:30 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
8:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.
8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Sponsors: Sanibel Captiva Community Bank & Veolia Environmental Services
10:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.
Sponsors: Sanibel Captiva Community Bank & Veolia Environmental Services
11:45 p.m. – 11:50 p.m.  50/50 RAFFLE DRAWING  GYMNASIUM
11:50 p.m. – 12:00 a.m.  NEW YEAR’S COUNTDOWN  GYMNASIUM
12:00 a.m. – 12:15 a.m.
Decorations provided by CenturyLink

Christmas Star Cruise - #Captiva Cruises

Star Cruise
Captiva Cruises will be offering
a new cruise throughout this
holiday season that will focus
on Astronomy and the Mystery of the
Christmas Star. Learn about the origins
of Christmas and the mysteries that
have surrounded the Star of Bethlehem
or the Christmas Star.
Constellations, planets and other
features of the night sky will also be discussed and identified. The next ons will
be on the evenings of Friday December
17 and Saturday December 18.
For reservations and more information
call Captiva Cruises at 472-5300

Thursday, December 16, 2010

VIP Realty announces top November producers

On Monday, VIP Realty announced that the Mike McMurray and Trevor Nette Team was recognized as top sales team and top listing team in November. 

Since merging their business' together, the McMurray and Nette Team have been the top selling real estate agents on Sanibel and Captiva.

Mary Lou Bailey was recognized as top producing agent and top listing agent for the month of November. Mary Lou is a member of the Sanibel Captiva Association of Realtors, the Florida Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors and served as director and member of many committees and task forces throughout the years.

In addition, David Schuldenfrei was recognized as top sales agent in November. David is a broker associate with over 35 years experience in the Sanibel-Captiva real estate market.

Lomano, Nicholson and Associates – Jason Lomano, John Nicholson, Jim Artale, Keith McMenamy and Theresa Lomano — was recognized as top producing team in the Month of November. Selling Sanibel and Captiva since 1983, Lomano, Nicholson & Associates have consistently been awarded top producing and listing team.Submitted by DIANE BARR

Decker named Head Chef at George and Wendy’s Corner Grill

George and Wendy’s Corner Grill owners George and Wendy Schnapp announced last week that they have hired Head Chef Kevin Decker to run the kitchen and to help develop the menu for the much-anticipated restaurant. 

Born in Jacksonville, Decker would consider the suburbs of Washington, D.C. his hometown, but he has now been living in Southwest Florida for almost three years. The chef was drawn to the area for the same reason many of you are here – the beach and the weather. He loves the warm summer months and enjoys spending his free time with his dog on his new boat. 

Decker’s initial cooking experiences were in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother at home. As an 8-year-old boy, Kevin told his mom he wanted to go to France to learn to cook. While he has not yet made it overseas, he did attend Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Orlando, where he received an AAS degree in Culinary Arts. In his career as a chef, Decker has had the opportunity to travel and experience the cuisine in different regions of the country. 

Prior to joining the Corner Grill team, Kevin helped open and was the Executive Sous Chef at Bayfront Bistro on Fort Myers Beach. He is excited about this new career opportunity at Corner Grill and is eager to share his experience with the Schnapps as he helps create the menu for the new restaurant. 

While his current favorite style of cooking has a Caribbean flair, you will find a wide variety of dishes on the Corner Grill menu that are influenced by other regions as well. Decker is looking forward to working with the Schnapps to see Corner Grill become a busy restaurant that is frequented by local residents and visitors alike. 

Learn more about Corner Grill at or find us on Facebook and be the first to hear the latest news about Corner Grill’s grand opening!   Submitted by STEPHANIE RAY

Roth making plans for bigger, better Sanibel New Year's Eve party

It's still a couple of weeks away, but Barry Alan Roth is already counting down to midnight for this New Year's Eve.

Roth, the behind-the-scenes orchestrator for the City of Sanibel's official New Year's Eve Party, has been busy making plans for this year's celebration almost since the bell rung in 2010.

"It's never too early to start making your New Year's Eve plans," Roth said with his ever-present smile. "And this year's celebration is going to be even bigger and better than last year!"

Advance tickets to attend the party, available only at the Rec Center, are $15 for adults (18 and older) and $12 for children. Kids 6 and under are free. At the door, the cost is $20 for adults and $15 for children.

"So far, tickets have been selling slowly. Last year, a lot of people waited until the last few days to buy their tickets," Roth reported. "But I would encourage folks to purchase their tickets in advance because the cut-off point is 600 guests. And it's cheaper to buy them in advance, too."

Following this year's theme, "Come Together," Sanibel residents and guests will gather to enjoy refreshments, live entertainment, dancing, games and prizes as well as the traditional midnight countdown to the new year.

Starting at 8 p.m., partygoers can dine on a wide variety of foods, including chicken fingers, cake, deli, fruit and vegetable platters (provided by Bailey's General Store), pizza (provided by Island Pizza), hot dogs (provided by Lazy Flamingo II), mini donuts (provided by Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory), soda and root beer floats (provided by Jerry's Foods), gourmet coffee and hot tea (provided by Coffee Bar @ Baileys), fresh squeezed juices (provided by Sun Harvest Citrus), water (provided by Costco) and more.

Entertainment will include live music and dancing with Gene Federico, strolling magicians Professor Patches and Robbie The Ringmaster, a Rock Band and Guitar Hero tournament, youth games and activities as well as bingo and a 50/50 raffle.

The raffle winner will receive 50 percent of all raffle proceeds and the other 50 percent of raffle proceeds will be used to provide financial assistance to children attending city-sponsored recreation programs. Last year's winner and the Rec Center shared a $2,075 jackpot.

Tickets are sold in packets of six chances for $5. The drawing will be held on New Year's Eve at approximately 11:45 p.m. and you don't need to be present to win. Raffle tickets may be purchased during normal business hours at Bank of The Islands, at 1699 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel Captiva Community Bank, located at 2475 Library Way, and at the Sanibel Recreation Center, at 3880 Sanibel-Captiva Road.

Raffle tickets are also available at the Sanibel Island Farmers Market, in the City Hall parking lot at 800 Dunlop Road. Hours are 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Sunday.

Bingo, available to players age 18 and older, begins at 8:15 p.m., with 23 games and more than $7,500 in prizes available. Winners may walk away with 3-day, 2-night resort stays, golf outings, jewelry, boat rides, guided and gift certificates. The minimum prize value is $100, with most valued at more than $300.

"We'll have guided tours of 'Ding' Darling with Paul Tritaik, the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum with Dr. Jose Leal and a beach tour with Dr. Bruce Neill of the Sanibel Sea School," noted Roth. "We'll also have a Sanibel Thriller cruise, with lunch or dinner afterwards."

Tickets to participate in bingo are $85 per person, which includes admission to the party, refreshments, entertainment and more. Only 50 bingo tickets will be sold.

For more information, contact Event Chairperson Barry Alan Roth at 313-9591 or the Sanibel Recreation Center at 472-0345.By JEFF LYSIAK

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sanibel Sea School purchases historic Lagoon Drive building

On Tuesday, Sanibel Sea School announced that it had "tied the knot" on an agreement to buy the building at 414 Lagoon Drive, the facility it has occupied since it was founded in 2006.

The structure, which legend says began its life on Sanibel as an Army Signal Corps barracks during World War II, was later moved to the present location. It features Dade County pine floors, rustic paneling, surfboards hanging in the rafters and aquaria lining the walls.

“As most folks know, we really wrestled with what was right for us and right for Sanibel for a long time," said Executive Director, Dr. Bruce Neill. "And we feel that this is where we’re supposed to be. It’s not a big land deal and it’s not a state-of-the-art new facility, but it’s home to us and to hundreds of kids on Sanibel and we have decided that we can do more with less."

“We can stay in this place that has come to mean Sanibel Sea School to us and we can, with a little elbow grease and ingenuity, make it better suited to our programs. We also think this really maximizes our donors’ investment and their faith in us in this new economic world we’re all in. We’ve been working on this for some time. We’re going to be very smart in our deployment of the funds we receive,” added Dr. Neill.

Sanibel Sea School has grown over the years with a robust summer camp and holiday camp, programs with adults and teens, as well as scholarship programs for kids who would not otherwise be able to afford Sanibel Sea School.

One such program, the PACE at Sanibel Sea School program, has been providing marine science education for at-risk teenage girls for four years.

“I realized the other day,” said Dr. Neill, “that we have been the longest consistent presence to these PACE girls. We started working with them right after they opened. And we have seen graduates go out into the world to overcome the gravity of their lives. It’s profoundly fulfilling.”

As Gail Markham, chair of the Lee PACE Board of Directors explained, “I look at the partnership between Sanibel Sea School and PACE and I believe this is the way it should be. This is what we all envision when we invest our time and resources to grow nonprofit institutions like these two. Together, they are making a big difference in the lives of young people.”

With the Lagoon Drive real estate purchase, Sanibel Sea School has a permanent home on the east end of Sanibel to be the hub of its mission to create a world where people understand, value and take care of the ocean. And that is a fitting solution for Maureen McClintock, who previously owned the building.

“My parents loved this building. It was built with a sense of purpose," she said. "I always felt an obligation to make certain it had a rightful owner who would continue to give it meaning. I could not be happier at this moment. Sanibel Sea School’s mission is exactly the future my parents would have wanted for this place.”

So, Sanibel Sea School is nestling into 414 Lagoon Drive for the holidays and forever. And that means there will be lots of joy and crazy ideas on the east end of Sanibel for years to come. If you’ve been to Bailey’s General Store lately, you’ve seen the bins for Sanibel Sea School collecting plastic bottles with caps. During Camp Calypso in the next few weeks, campers will be building a vessel made out of these bottles and launching it into the brine!

And so, begins a season of education about plastics in the ocean. If the plastic Calypso sinks, it’s just a short walk to Sanibel Sea School’s new old home on Lagoon Drive, to tow the sodden recyclables to shore.

“We really want to thank everyone for supporting Sanibel Sea School in the past, present and future. We had over a hundred letters of support,” said co-founder Evelyn Neill. “This is a small building but a huge step. I am constantly reminded of how meaningful this simple building is for many kids. I am very proud that we have a permanent home on Sanibel now. It’s an excellent finish to an excellent year.”

Sanibel Sea School is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization. If you would like to find out more, call 472-8585 or