Frontier Fortitude for the New Year

Lois Bolin, Old Naples Historian

Lois Bolin, Old Naples Historian

by Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian

Out with the old and in with the new” is the underpinning of every New Year’s resolution; but as most resolutions seems to go in one year and out the other, why bother at all?

Perhaps, it is because we are a culture of hope — Pollyannas who still believe that maybe someday we will actually accomplish our goals we set every January. Perhaps it is in our DNA. Festivities surrounding resolutions have been essential to ringing in the New Year since 2000 B.C., when Babylonians held semiannual festivals around the spring and autumn equinoxes.

Old-Naples-Walking-MapThen again, perhaps it is because of another tradition that dates back to 153 B.C., when the face of the mythical king of early Rome, Janus, was placed at the head of the calendar in such as way that he could look back on past events and forward to the future, thus making him an ancient symbol for resolutions.

Resolutions, with symbolic rituals, are intended to set us on the right foot each New Year and to affect the quality good luck we expect for the coming year. Some say that private parties sprang from the notion that the first visitor on New Year’s Day could bring either good or bad luck the rest of the year.

While New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square began in 1904, perhaps due to the first subway line opening that year, the dropping of a lighted ball began in 1907, when Adolph S. Ochs (no relations to our Collier County manager), publisher of the New York Times, asked his chief engineer, Walter Palmer, to design a spectacular show for the evening that would showcase the new Times Square. Mr. Palmer hired sign-maker Artkraft Strauss to build a 700 pound wood-and-iron ball that was five feet in diameter and illuminated by 100 25-watt bulbs.  The publicity stunt was such a success that it still endures today as, “the party of all parties.”

At the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World in 2000, the New Year’s Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting. It combined the crystal ball with the latest in lighting technology and the most traditional of materials to remind us of our past as we looked towards the new millennium.

The theme for the 2015 NYE is the “Gift of Fortitude.” More precious than physical might, fortitude embodies the characteristics of resolve, courage and spirit so we can harness the tenacity, character and grit needed to triumph over adversity or the taunting of Grace & Shelly’s Cupcakes or those Charlotte Thomas linens muting the call of Nike or our doubts which cast shadows over our dreams.

The key to fulfilling those resolutions lies in aligning our intentions (goals) with our values, fortified daily with ‘focusing’ inspirations. To find inspiration you need look no further than your own back yard to local history – to the place where intentions launched one of the most sought out destinations in the world today.

Destinations such as Third Street South, where pioneers once slept in thatched huts until cottages with no air conditioning were built or Crayton Cove, where memories of houseboats served as business offices and icehouses serves as bedrooms.

Inspiration abounds in Naples first industrial district, 10th Street South, whose numerous lumberyards built homes as well as dreams and of course 5th Avenue South, which sprang from the resolve of WWII veterans after their inspiring defeat of the mightiest villains the world had even seen.

On the Old Naples Waterfront, around Tin City, Bayfront and Port-O-Call, memories of pioneers working on commercial fishing boats offloading their haul at the fish processing plants while bobcats chasing children on their bikes at night, still linger.

To learn more about Naples Frontier Fortitude, look for my upcoming Wednesdays on the Waterfront Lectures sponsored by Life in Naples and McQuaid Company Real Estate Services on January 21, February 18, March 18 and April 15 from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. at 464 Bayfront Place. Reservations at 239.594.2978 are preferred to guesstimate how many Frontier and Tamiami-Tinis will be needed.

This year, on the site where Calusa once roamed, where railroad cars switched directions to take freshly canned fish and clams to those Northern tourists who longed for the freshness of paradise, you can fortify your new intentions with the pioneering spirit of those, who
every New Year’s Eve laid plans that created the magic in this place we call home.

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