“So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over.
Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.”
— Lee Iacocca
Will Rogers said that even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. It seems like Mr. Iacocca, a renowned businessman in his time, was also aware of the danger of resting on one’s laurels. I’ve always been a fan of lead, follow or get the heck out of the way in order that those who are doing what you say can’t be done, can get it done. Naples has been blessed
with many of those kinds of leaders.
A Centennial Celebration
On August 27, 1962, 15 like-minded people came together at the Naples Yacht Club to “gather and preserve all of the items, documents and material which have a bearing on the history of Collier County.” They aptly named their group the Collier County Historical Society. According to Charles Dauray Jr., in 1985 the CCHS, acting as an agent to the city of Naples, launched The Centennial Foundation, which had a three-fold purpose: recognize the importance of the beginning of Naples, raise funds to enlarge the Collier County Museum and continue the restoration of historic Palm Cottage.
The centennial celebration, which acknowledged Naples official birth in 1885, kicked off with “birthday party” festivities for some
5,000 people. The Centennial Costume Ball sold out its 300 tickets in just three days, perhaps due in part to the excitement of
the brand new Ritz-Carlton, Naples, location or that WEVU-TV hosted a live program from the ballroom touting the importance of local history. (Oh, how sweet it is.)
Funds from this extraordinary effort highlighting community, collaboration and connectivity supported local history and culture:
$175,000 went to enlarge the Collier County Museum facility; $25,000 went to the city of Naples to build the band shell at
Cambier Park; and $45,000 went for the rehabilitation of Palm Cottage.
The Diamond Jubilee
On December 1, 1998, a committee of community stewards launched the Naples Diamond Jubilee, a six month celebration of the City’s 75th anniversary. The committee was headed by former Mayor Kim Anderson and the then current Mayor Bonnie MacKenzie. (Oh, those lady Mayors.) The Diamond Jubilee committee held a series of events commemorating various facets of Naples’ history, such as the 22nd
“Hysterically Historical” Great Dock Canoe Race and a swamp buggy parade chaired by Jim Coletta and Skip Riffle. Other gifts to the community from this group of stewards included 75 shade trees planted in Cambier Park and the bronze historical markers program that highlights 12 areas of significance in our fair city.
2011 Moving Forward
While working with the City, I uncovered that three of the slated markers on the original list of 15 were never completed: The Naples Company Building, (1921) Tin City and Combs Fish House (Kelly’s Fish House). Another recognized site, the Calusa Canal, located in front of Bleu Provence, would also earn its rightful place. The marker for the Naples Daily News building that once stood on Central Avenue is still missing, as is Naples First Golf Course marker (keep your eyes open). The Diamond Jubilee committee, which used only private and corporate sponsorships (no tax dollars) expressed hope that “future generations will continue to build on their community’s legacy of vision, fortitude, integrity and dedication.” Their celebration offered all who participated the opportunity to pay tribute to the city and to recognize their community’s “past full of pride” as well as its “future full of promise.”
In honor of the City’s 100th anniversary of incorporation, Mayor Heitmann and her staff have developed a framework for celebrating the Centennial and will endorse and share those events on the city’s website once approved.
See Naplesgov.com for more information.