Immokalee Rise – The Shelly Stayer Shelter

Jeff Lytle

By Jeff Lytle

The guest speaker at a Shelter for Abused Women & Children of Collier County luncheon had a powerful message. As a survivor of human trafficking she shed light on an emerging form of abuse.

And then there was her shoulder tattoo. It was a replica of a barcode – a symbol of being bought and sold like merchandise at a store.

That image moved a shelter board member – coincidentally an executive of a food products company – to kickstart a branch campus in Immokalee for victims of human trafficking as well as traditional domestic violence.

Today, Shelly Stayer’s $3 million gift in 2016 has led to raising over $11 million – more than half of the target for the facility set to open in April.

“We are 100 percent excited and encouraged at the outpouring of support from this community,’’ says Stayer, only the third chairman of the global Johnsonville Sausage family business since its founding in Wisconsin in 1945. The second was her husband, Ralph F. Stayer. The first was his father, Ralph C. Stayer, who started the Naples connection when he retired.

Shelly Stayer

Over the years the Stayers have been generous donors and leaders of the Golisano Children’s Museum and Artis-Naples as well as the shelter, where Shelly Stayer is now a trustee emeritus. She ranks among the Community Foundation of Collier County’s Women of Distinction.

In Wisconsin and elsewhere, the Stayers have been philanthropic champions of higher education, Boys & Girls clubs, juvenile diabetes and cancer research, and addiction recovery.

“Family and family safety is extremely important to me,” she explains, “so the topic of human trafficking truly touches my heart. People think it cannot happen to them or to their loved ones. The truth is, it can – and does –happen to anyone.”

The 43rd domestic violence shelter in Florida will include a 21,000sq. ft. building on 5.6 acres. The client waiting area will be named in honor of the Women’s Foundation of Collier County, which provided a $25,000 grant.

The Shelly Stayer Shelter will provide 48 spaces for domestic violence survivors and eight for human trafficking — almost doubling the Naples Shelter’s current client capacity of 60, according to the foundation.

The existing shelter, in the Naples area, says Executive Director Linda Oberhaus, is consistently operating at capacity. The need is especially great in Immokalee, with a dense population and disproportionately high rates of 911 calls.

“In our needs study for the Immokalee emergency shelter, we found the distance to safe shelter was a determining factor for many victims,’’ Oberhaus says. “Many were choosing to remain in unsafe situations rather than travel to Naples – 45 minutes from their family support systems, employment and their children’s schools.”

Oberhaus says the shelter organization has served Immokalee via a nationally recognized outreach center since 1997.

“The decision to build the shelter to address both domestic violence and human trafficking was a fiscal one – the highest and best use of land, and funding,’’ she explains.“

Victims of trafficking generally require specific long-term therapeutic care due to significant physical, emotional and mental abuse by multiple perpetrators. Their endangerment levels are higher and legal remedies different. ’’The shelter, she reports, has served 44 victims of human trafficking – mostly sex trafficking — since 2014.

“There is no other agency in Collier County better prepared to address the short and long term needs of domestic violence and human trafficking victims than The Shelter,” says Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.

“We are thrilled that this much-needed shelter will soon become a reality,” Oberhaus says. “Shelly’s generosity has allowed us to fast-track this project to save and transform many lives.”

Lytle is the retired editorial page editor and TV host at the Naples Daily News. Jeff can be reached by email at

The gift of education can transform the lives of Immokalee youth


By Dawn Montecalvo, President of Guadalupe Center

This time of year, we’re all looking to buy that perfect gift, something that’s memorable, comes from the heart and makes a lasting impact.

The most valuable gifts, however, don’t always come wrapped in pretty boxes with a bow on top.

The gift of education can transform lives and offers hope to children battling the odds. Education never falls out of fashion or becomes obsolete. Dollar for dollar, education offers an unparalleled return on investment.

Guadalupe Center’s generous supporters understand the difference their donations are making in the lives of more than 1,300 Immokalee children each year.

A mountain of data shows that Guadalupe Center’s educational programs are successful – more than 95% of pre-kindergarten graduates enter school having met or exceeded Florida’s kindergarten readiness standards, 100% of students in the after-school Tutoring Program show academic gains in reading and math, and 100% of Tutor Corps seniors graduate high school and are admitted into college. An astounding 92% graduate with a degree.

Beyond the numbers, though, are stories. Stories of hope. Stories of achievement. Stories of triumph. Here is one family’s story: With a father working in construction and a stay-at-home mother, life in Immokalee wasn’t easy for this family of six.


“My dad is a hard worker,” said Alberta, 18, the oldest of four siblings. “We didn’t have much, but we had enough to get by.”

In July 2015, though, the children’s mother suddenly passed away. Alberta assumed more of a parenting role, preparing meals for the family and taking care of household chores.

Two years later, Guadalupe Center entered their lives. Alberta, now a senior at Immokalee High School, and Rosaura, now a 16-year-old sophomore, joined Tutor Corps, a college-preparatory program that offers guidance in college and career readiness, ACT and SAT test prep, mentorships, financial literacy and scholarship assistance.

Alberta and Rosaura also have opportunities to earn wages by tutoring younger students, helping supplement income for the family.

Elmer, 11, is a sixth-grader at Immokalee Middle School and has participated in Guadalupe Center’s Summer Enrichment Program. The youngest sibling, 5-year-old Graciela, went from being a nonverbal preschooler attending Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program to a thriving kindergartner at Pinecrest Elementary School. She’s now attending Guadalupe Center’s After-school Tutoring Program to continue building her reading and math skills.

Alberta, who struggled balancing schoolwork with home life, is on track to graduate next spring and plans to double-major in business management and engineering.

“Honestly, I don’t know where I’d be right now without Guadalupe Center,” she said. “They’re always there to support me and gave me an opportunity to take care of myself as a person and as a student.”

Alberta’s family is just one story, a few trees in the forest of students whose lives are being transformed by Guadalupe Center.

Guadalupe Center’s mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education for the children of Immokalee. It’s working. Former Tutor Corps students have returned to Immokalee as proud college graduates, working in the community as teachers, first responders, health care workers, engineers and other professionals – proof that education can set students on a path to a brighter future.

Guadalupe Center has been able to help so many students because of donors who support the Center’s three remarkable programs: Early Childhood Education, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment and Tutor Corps. Without philanthropic support, these highly successful programs would not exist, and Guadalupe Center would not be able to continue meeting the growing needs for educational programs in Immokalee.

There is no gift more important than the gift of education.

Alberta and her siblings have a very bright future thanks to generous individuals, businesses and organizations in this community. Education truly is the gift that keeps on giving. Year-end gifts of any amount can be made through a secure digital form at Guadalupe All donations are tax deductible Guadalupe Center | 509 Hope Circle, Immokalee, FL 34142239-657-7711 |

Art After Dark – December 2019

We are in the midst of the season of spending more time with family and friends, showing appreciation for those who are special in our lives.

The Holidays are a very “magical” time of the year, especially for those who approach it with the optimism of children.

Seeing through the eyes of a child, we experience a new fresh view of things in life that we may have seen many times before.

The charming area on the Bay in Old Naples called Crayton Cove has been around from the beginning of the formation of Naples, but has changed many times over the years and renews itself every handful of years, in an enchanting way.

No matter how it remakes itself, it is always worth the visit. At this time in history, it offers some of Naples’ best restaurants and galleries while hosting a view into Naples’ beginnings with its waterfront heritage of charter boats at the City Dock.

Enjoy a stroll through Crayton Cove and take it all in. Random Acts of Art offers a wonderful selection of unique gift items for those who seem to have everything.

If in the downtown area on Sunday December 8th, stop in at the Phil Fisher Gallery from 5 to 8 pm and experience an artist reception for the show titled “The Magic Of Christmas”, which features small works of art by professional area artists that would be a “treasure” to own.

The Galleries of Crayton Cove area group of galleries representing professional artists in our community in Old Naples by the Bay, all within a one block walk, where 8th St. S. & 12th Ave. S. meet at the flagpole.

Programs, Tours and Events at Rookery December 2019


Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center is open 9 am to 4 pm Monday through Saturday.

At Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, you can learn about environmental science and the natural world through actual hands-on experiences with marine life touch tanks, exhibits and coastal habitat displays. The two-story modern visitor center is air conditioned and includes an art gallery, naturalist led programs, gift shop, nature viewing platform over the water and more! Kids and grown-ups alike can explore the center and discover the plants, fish and wildlife that call Rookery Bay Research Reserve’s 110,000 acres home.

Admission is $5 for adults, $3 for kids 6 – 12, and free for kids under 6 and Friends of Rookery Bay members. Located at 300 Tower Road, one mile south of the intersection of US 41 and Collier Boulevard.

Learn more and register for tours and events at Friends of Rookery Bay member discounts apply to most events.

Naturalist Led Kayak Tours at Rookery Bay Research Reserve – All Year!

Join Rookery Bay Research Reserve for a kayak adventure into the beautiful backwaters of Rookery Bay Reserve with our exclusive partner, Rising Tide Explorers! All the guides are active local biologists, certified naturalists and certified kayaking instructors making them the most qualified guides in the region.

The whole family can enjoy a memorable and educational adventure into the estuary. With our kayak tours, guests paddle through beautiful mangrove tunnels, teeming mudflats and intricate oyster reefs while searching for amazing wildlife like sea stars, large snails, birds, dolphins

In the Rookery Bay Gallery –Annual Painting Exhibition

November 3, 2019 – January 9, 2020

Included with Admission to Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center The Friends of Rookery Bay and the United Arts Council of Collier County present the Annual Painting Exhibition with works submitted by artists from Collier and Lee counties.

Following Rookery Bay’s environmental mission, works share a central theme of flora and fauna.


International Volunteer Day

December 5 • BOGO Admission

Visit the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center for buy one get one free entrance on December 5 and recognize the volunteers who offer their time and talent to Rookery Bay each day. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of the contribution they make to the community and to celebrate their efforts to protect the coastal beauty and wildlife of Southwest Florida.

Rookery Bay Brush Strokes – Wildlife Watercolors

December 5 • 9:30am – 12pm • $60 Registration is required

Paint the beauty of coastal Southwest Florida and the wildlife of estuary waters at Rookery Bay Brush Strokes watercolor painting class. Local Naples artist Jan Deswik offers step-by-step simple instructions and creative support that’s perfect for beginners or anyone inspired by the coastal environmentand wants to bring it to life in a one-of a-kind painting. Each class spotlights a natural theme from shells to birdlife to local waterways. Held in classrooms at The Rookery Bay Environmental LearningCenter, all materials are included. Participants will leave each class with a completed painted piece with matte.

Science Saturdays

9am – 1pm $5 Admission for adults, FREE for kids 12 and under •Facility is open 9 am to 4 pm•

  • December 7 – Birds of a Feather
  • December 14 – Managing Marine Debris
  • December 21 – Fabulous Fish
  • December 28 – World of Water

At the Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, Science Saturdays are sure to unleash your inner scientist or marine biologist with hands-on discoveries for all ages. Every Saturday a different theme at Rookery Bay, enjoy eco-crafts, a presentation, a featured film and our “Lessons in Laboratories” program from 11 – 11:45 am.

Essentials of Digital Photography

December 9 • 9:30am – 12:30pm • $55 Registration is required

If you want to get the best pictures possible, and trulyunderstanding your camera’s features, this camera workshop is for you. The class covers the essentials of your digital camera. You will learn how to use your camera’s shutter, aperture, ISO control and the drive modes to create images with impact and creativity. Sonny Saunders has over 35 years of experience in photography and instruction and is renowned for his ability to communicate to a wide variety of students.

Lunch & Learn Lecture: Rookery Bay & the Next Generation of Scientists –Shark Research Beyond Our Boundaries

December 13 • 12 – 1 pm • $15 Registration is required

Please join us for the second in a series of five lectures -Rookery Bay & the Next Generation of Scientists –Shark Research Beyond Our Boundaries. Patrick O’Donnell, Shark Research Environmental Specialist at Rookery Bay and Kristine Zikmanis, Florida International University student will co-present about how the 20 years of shark research extends way past Rookery Bay and where the results may take future scientific studies. Lunch will be provided.

The 2019-20 lecture series focuses on key projects occurring at Rookery Bay and the collaboration of senior scientists and up-and-coming young staff members or interns. During copresentations of findings and information, the teams will highlight the importance of mentorship in science and how working together with today’s young professionals positively impacts the future of environmental ecology and conservation in Florida.

Birds of the Beach

December 14 •8am – 12pm • $40 Registration is

Southwest Florida is a critical stopover site for thousands of migrating and wintering shorebirds. In this class, Adam DiNuovo of Audubon Florida will discuss the life history of these birds and the amazing journeys many of them make annually. Winter shorebirds are notoriously difficult to ID, so practicing the skills learned in this class is essential. You will learn how to use plumage, size, and behavior to help with identification. The classroom session will take place at the Rookery Bay Field Station on Shell Island Road. It will be followed by a trip to Tigertail Beach, one of the most important winter shorebird sites in Florida, where we will see many of the birds discussed. Be prepared to wade in water up to your knees, with adequate footwear that will protect your feet (no flip flops). Collier County beach parking fee applies ($8, free with sticker).

Rookery Bay Brush Strokes –Wildlife Watercolors

December 19 • 9:30am – 12pm • $60 Registration is required

Paint the beauty of coastal Southwest Florida and the wildlife of estuary waters at Rookery Bay Brush Strokes watercolor painting class. Local Naples artist Jan Deswik offers step-by-step simple instructions and creative support that’s perfect for beginners or anyone inspired by the coastal environment and wants to bring it to life in a one-of a-kind painting. Each class spotlights a natural theme from shells to birdlife to local waterways. Held in classrooms at The Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, all materials are included. Participants will leave each class with a completed painted piece with matte.

Celebrate Winter Solstice

December 20 • BOGO Admission!

You’ll get more than your money’s worth out of the shortest day of the year with a buy one get one free entrance to the Rookery BayEnvironmental Learning Center.

Junior Campout at Rookery Bay

December 21 – 22 • Ages 10 – 16 yrs • Co-ed Drop off December 21 at 4:30pm, Pick up December 22 at 8am • $60 Registration is required

Gain outdoor skills and further your appreciation for the great outdoors of Southwest Florida with the Education staff of Rookery Bay Reserve. This is a non-campfire campout. Participants are required to bring their own camping gear. Pizza and lightsnacks are included.

Bringing Hope and Healing to Foster Children

Some of the best childhood memories are made in the classroom or on the playground.

Now imagine the stress of being academically challenged, or of never having the chance to be part of an after-school club.

That is often the reality for the hundreds of children who are in foster care in Collier County.

Friends of Foster Children Forever is working to make sure that the approximately 400 children in foster care have the chance to enjoy the same memories and experiences as other children through a variety of strategic programs that support the child’s emotional, social and educational wellbeing from birth through graduation so that they can succeed in life.

The need is staggering: on average, foster care children in Collier County spend one full school year – 187 days – in the foster care system, and are often moved 4-6 times. Not only does this instability often lead to emotional trauma, but more than half of the children under age five experience some kind of developmental delay.

Sadly, only 50 percent of children in the foster care system graduate from high school and 20 percent become homeless after they age out of the system when they turn 18.

While the statistics are alarming, Friends of Foster Children Forever is determined to make a brighter tomorrow for these children by helping to develop their educational and emotional skills, offering tutoring, and providing fun, enrichment programs such as summer camps, music or sports lessons.

Early Education

More than 50 percent of foster children are under the age of five. It’s a time when the foundations of education are established.

Early learning centers expose children to a language-rich setting and offer activities that promote math and reading skills. With the cost of early learning centers as high as $10,500 per year, per child, Friends of Foster Children Forever helps to connect foster caregivers with funding opportunities to pay for this important education.

Academic Mentoring

As a result of the frequent moves that foster children have to endure many fall behind in school.

On average, foster children are set back six months academically every time they experience a placement change or other traumatic event. This can create frustration, embarrassment, depression, and poor self-esteem.

Friends of Foster Children Forever’s Academic Mentors provide one-to-one tutoring and guidance. Recent results have been encouraging because they show that as a result of the Academic Mentors program, 100 percent of students improve in at least one core subject and more than a quarter of students improve in four core subjects.

Enrichment Activities

Sports teams, extracurricular events and weekend activities help children make new friends, develop new skills and discover their passions.

Friends of Foster Care Forever’s Project Enrichment helps to pay for these opportunities, as well as summer camps, field trips, sports participation, music lessons, holiday and birthday gifts. The program also ensures foster care students are prepared with school supplies.

“Foster children are some of the most vulnerable children in our area,” said Ann Hughes, executive director. Hughes continued,“They have been removed from their homes, families and friends. We try to do everything we can to make their lives happier while they are going through this difficult time. When we see a smile on their faces we know we are making a difference.”

Save The Brow Foundation

Irina Cheva

Save the Brow Foundation Founder, Irina Cheva answers questions about how she can help pre-chemo patients

Each year millions of Americans look in the mirror and see cancer staring back at them—not necessarily in the form of the disease itself, but in the ravages of treatment.

Oncologists prepare patients for the side effects of chemotherapy like nausea and diarrhea and even hair loss on the head. But no one talks about losing hair on the eyebrows and eyelashes.

“I have been diagnosed with cancer and was wondering if I would be a good candidate to have my brows done?”

“I created the Save the Brow Foundation to give cancer patients the option to continue to be the best version of themselves –before, during and after treatment. Permanent makeup prior to chemotherapy gives patients the confidence to face the disease head on – allowing them to avoid the stereo type of looking like a sick person.”

“Is the procedure safe?”“

Save The Brow Foundation is the only organic permanent makeup clinic in the United States that specializes in cancer patients.

Qualified and highly skilled permanent makeup artists perform eyebrow microblading and soft permanent eyeliner to imitate the hair prior to its disappearance. This service is free of charge to prechemopatients.”

Save the Brow Foundation 2950 Tamiami Trail N. Ste. 6 Naples, FL 34103 (239) 877-1388 To learn more, connect with Save The Brow Foundation on Facebook and Instagram.


Jeff Lytle

By Jeff Lytle

When they write the history of the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club, residents will muse on the legacy.

Was it the personal service and very public welcome championed by the Watkins family, vresort owners since 1946? The beach? The holiday meals?

The summer jazz concerts fill the main lawn at the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club.

Yes to all. Yet, amid all the words, let’s not overlook the music. Live music, that is, kicking off with a bang in the mid-1980s.

That soundtrack has been lively, sedate, soft and loud – and mostly free to the public via the Summer Jazz Series and year-round Sunday evening parties. And there was more, at concerts and galas to raise money for charities large and small.

No single detailed chronology exists, so any attempt at a complete summary – even by a writer who has been in Naples since 1979 — may have gaps. Photos from the early days are hard to come by; with today’s technology there would be thousands.

Music forged the bond that thousands of locals of all ages felt with the hotel, which is two seasons away from a major facelift by the incoming owners, The Athens Group, based in Phoenix and synonymous with iconic top-shelf resorts. An official with the Athens Group says it is too early to tell what if any of the public music traditions will carry on.

One major figure of that music tradition, Alan James, has a story mirroring that of the Beach Club. After working with rock legend Roy Orbison, James arrived at the hotel modestly in the 1980s as a solo singer/guitarist and leader of the bar band AJ & The Cruisers. From there he graduated to a band first known as Power Haus, then Powerhouse, still playing often at the hotel. Today that band has expanded to 12 performers as Powerhouse: The Next Generation, headlining conventions and celebrity wedding parties around the world.

But it is his seminal role in the “musical landmark’’ Sunday celebrations that especially tickles him.

“One day in early 1986 the food and beverage director at that time, Jack Cain, came to me and asked “How can we have more entertainment out here”? I looked at the chickee hut by the pool and said “Why don’t you have a band play out there on Sundays and serve drinks?’’ His reply: “We cannot afford a full band out here. Maybe you could do a solo”?

“My answer: ‘Tell you what. I will have my band play every Sunday for a month for next to nothing and let’s see. If it goes well we can negotiate a reasonable fee for the band moving forward.

“The rest is history. Sunday night at the Beach Club has become a Naples tourist attraction and is known worldwide.

“Occasionally I see Michael Watkins (the Beach Club’s president and co-owner) on the property and he never fails to tell me how much he appreciates my foresight and how the hotel has enjoyed the exposure from those Sunday nights Club throughout the years. It’s a good feeling to have played a part in local entertainment history.

“One footnote: I still have to buy my own drinks when I go there today. LOL.’’

Meanwhile, the marquee summer jazz series – which also has included pop, blues and zydeco bands – is headed for its 35th straight year in 2020.

“The late Susan Kennedy, who was active in the arts, had this brilliant idea to have jazz concerts in the off season on the lawn,’’ recalls Ellin Goetz, wife of Beach Club President and co-owner Mike Watkins. “They started with three per summer.’’

She adds: “Mike came up with the idea of sponsorships as a way to highlight the generosity of local businesses to the year-round residents.’’

Goetz goes on: “Amazingly very few concerts have been canceled due to weather, with the notable exception of 2017 when ‘Irmageddon’ shut Naples down during September!”

“It really is a magical evening and folks have even made it a tradition to treat themselves with a ‘staycation’ by booking rooms overnight so they can enjoy a special slice of Naples on The Gulf.”

But wait. There’s more. The Woodstork concerts – named for Woodstock and actually benefiting wildlife causes – went on every May from 1989 to 1993.

“They were right after the Great Dock Canoe Race, which was perfect for us,’’ recalls Lanny Sherwin, the former publisher of Gulfshore Life and leader of the band Mid-Life Crisis, the headliners. “Pre-lubricated fans were our dream come true!’’

Sherwin moved on to a successful career in children’s music, jazz and painting in Nashville and now Santa Barbara, California.

Amid the same era another concert series, known as Fillabelly, raised awareness and money for hunger.

Led by a cadre of civic figures such as Dr. Bob Wald, Michael McDonnell, Bob Duncan and Jill Stephen, the shows booked some of the biggest names in Beach Club music lore, such as John Denver, Peter, Paul and Mary and Don McLean. Other stars performing at the hotel over the years included Tony Bennett, Peter Nero and The Righteous Brothers.

Lytle is the retired editorial page editor and TV host at the Naples Daily News. Jeff can be reached by email at


by Kelsey Burr, Naples Zoo Marketing Associate

Naples Zoo is now the temporary home of 52 stunning images of some of the world’s most iconic and rare animals. The National Geographic Photo Ark is a traveling photo exhibition that features large-format, captivating images taken by National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore. The exhibition is at Naples Zoo now through April 20, 2020 and is included in regular Zoo admission.

The National Geographic Photo Ark is an ambitious project committed to documenting every species living in the world’s zoos and wildlife sanctuaries—inspiring people not just to care, but also to help protect these animals for future generations. The Photo Ark is a compelling and visually powerful project that aims to photograph species before it is too late. In addition to creating an archival record
for generations to come, this project is a hopeful platform for conservation and shines a light on individuals and organizations working to preserve species around the world.

“The National Geographic Photo Ark has already  inspired millions around the world with the message that it is not too late to save some of the world’s most endangered species,” said Kathryn Keane, vice president of Exhibitions, National Geographic Society. “Joel Sartore has demonstrated what one man can do using the power of photography—and now National Geographic wants to inspire people all over the country to contribute to this global challenge.”

Sartore has photographed more than 9,000 species around the world as part of the Photo Ark. His goal is to get portraits of over 12,000 species, representing several animal classes, including birds, fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

A few of our Naples Zoo animals are also featured in the National Geographic Photo Ark. Sartore visited Naples Zoo a few years ago and photographed Kaa our reticulated python, Oasis, one of our Damara zebras, our white-headed brown lemurs Barry and Victoria, and Uno, the late Florida panther. These breathtaking images will be some of the photos on display throughout the Zoo.

For schools, the Naples Zoo Education Department is offering a limited-time Field Trip Experience to go along with the exhibition. It’s called “Wildlife Through a Lens”. Students will get hands-on experience using digital cameras at the Zoo to create their own images to inspire conservation. Students will then design and construct a take-home frame for their favorite image. Field Trip
Experiences are taught by Zoo educators in our onsite classroom.

To learn more, visit We are hoping to host Joel Sartore at Naples Zoo in the spring for a presentation. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page and website,, for details to come.


A Vintage Naples Christmas… Lois Bolin tells us how

Lois Bolin

This beachside community began in the fall of 1886. The Town of Naples, like Marco, Everglades City and Immokalee were all originally under the county of Lee until May 1923, when Memphis born millionaire, Barron Gift Collier, came onto the scene. After the county’s name change, the citizens finally formed their township on May 25, 1925. Twenty-four years later, this “nothing to do in little” Town of Naples became a City.

Christmas in the City

This holiday season we will be celebrating 70 years of Christmas in a place that holds a mystique and magic unique unto itself. (If you are a true Townie, then 96 years and if you are a member
of the Weeks family, 133 years.)

In honor of this milestone, the Parade Committee reached out to local holiday experts to ask for input on this year’s theme. Students from Saint Ann Catholic School and Lake Park Elementary School received a brief history on the city, and it didn’t take long for their imagination to kick into high gear. Some of the ideas were Christmas in the Everglades, a kangaroo or Hawaiian Christmas, and Santa Paws. We had a student who no doubt will be running for City Council one day. He wrote, “I appreciate everything this city does for me so thank you Naples…one more thing…Happy Birthday,
Naples, you are great. And I really mean all of that!”

The winning 2019 theme, A Vintage Naples  Christmas, was drawn by Lake Park Elementary School student, Sophia Banas. Sophia’s class is looking forward to the Royal Scoop treatment from Matt Moen’s M&M Café at Tin City

The Classic Grand Marshall

We can think of no better representative to serve as the  2019 Grand Marshall than the classic beauty (inside and out) of Nancy Lascheid, founder of The Neighborhood Health Clinic. With their 700 plus volunteers, the Clinic has been delivering quality medical care to  uninsured  Collier County adults for the past 20 years.

On December 10th, from 6-8pm, the Christmas Parade takes place but not to worry if you don’t want
to fight the 10,000 “children” eager to capture the spirit of the season. Simply turn to Comcast
Channel 98 or tune into Facebook Live or the City of Naples website. It’s almost as good as the real thing. Veterans reserved seats are across from City Hall, where the filming occurs, and
the judges are stationed.

A special thank you to Life in Naples, our Grand Prize sponsor and to our go to Stewards who are always there to lend a hand with prizes. Special thanks to Lili Montes and Jenny Gezella for scoring and for Ingrid Aiello’s surprise pizzas.

Newsflash: Naples is not only No.1 in livable – it’s also No.1 in lovability.