by Councilman Bill Barnett
One of the fun things about being an elected official is you get to ride in quite a few parades in the City if you choose to do so. I’m one of those who has always enjoyed doing that, and I always recruit two candy throwers from our local schools to ride with me and toss the candy.
Usually the kids are 3rd to 5th graders and their exuberance keeps me smiling for the entire Holiday Season. This year was no exception, and one of my riders was a neighbor’s daughter who is a fifth grader at Lake Park Elementary school and the other was a fourth grade gentleman from Osceola Elementary school. Both were intent on following my simple instructions which was not to try and throw any beanballs that would hurt someone, throw the candy far enough so kids wouldn’t get near the car, and try and ration out what they throw so we have some left by the time we get to the end of the parade. I will tell you that no matter how much candy we buy, and we buy a lot, it is a rarity to have any candy left anywhere near the end of the parade. I have learned from many years of parade experience not to get stressed if we run out early, and to let them be kids and have fun which they sure do. My grandkids used to ride with me until they got too big and riding in parades wasn’t a cool thing to do. This year we ran out at about the three quarter mark but nonetheless it was fun and they will be bragging about it for the entire school year.
One year when I was Mayor I was auctioneering for a charity event and I auctioned off the opportunity to ride with me in the St. Patrick’s Day parade which is probably the best parade of the year. It went for $1800.00 and the charity was thrilled with the results.
It is New Year’s Eve and here I sit at 8 p.m. in my pj’s with my wife Chris, our rescue Bulldog Zsa-Zsa, and our two rescue cats Maggie and Ava. We are going to watch the Alabama-Michigan State game and try to stay up till midnight which is almost impossible because we are early risers and there is really no incentive to be able to say yes, we stayed up to watch the ball drop. After 43 years of living in Naples I have finally come to the realization that the Christmas-New Year week is the busiest week of the season and to just chill out. I try not to complain, I smile a lot, I don’t grind my teeth when I’m stuck in gridlock and absolutely, positively, I try not to get impatient in the grocery store. So how is that working for me this week? Well, a few hiccups and a lot of deep breaths, and one grocery store mini meltdown when I had patiently waited my turn in line and when I’m asked by the counter person what I need a guy insisted he was next in line. Maybe there was a time in my life when I would have vehemently challenged him, but I relinquished my turn and waited for an extra 10 minutes while this person tried to make up his mind on what cold cuts he wanted. Overall it has been a good week. I was in Swan River Seafood Market a few days ago and a lady who had come into the store forgot to take a number and didn’t realize she needed one. After a few minutes I offered her mine and she smiled and said “No thank you, I just realized I left my money at home and I just wanted to see what I will buy and then go home and get my money.” I said to her. “Please pick out what you want, I’ll pay for it, and you can leave the money with the staff here, they know me”…She was amazed and said “You don’t know me, you would really do this?” I told her I had lived in Naples for many years, I introduced myself, and said yes I would, and she accepted and profusely thanked me. I fully realized that maybe I wouldn’t get paid back but my gut said I would because this is Naples and if you live here that’s just what we do. A few days later I went back to buy some seafood and sure enough there was a note and the $12.00 that she had spent. I might never see her again, but I know it made me feel good and I know I made someone else’s day a good one.
Well Alabama just scored first and I’m getting tired, so the odds are another year will pass and a new one will be here when I wake up tomorrow morning and I won’t see the ball come down!
As we watch the weather patterns across the country we have a lot to be thankful for here in Naples, so make sure to enjoy it!