Remembering A Pearl Harbor Christmas by Lois Bolin, Ph.D., Old Naples Historian

Our 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, our town formed its township on May 25, 1925 and 16 years later, life in Naples like much of our country would never be the same.

“On December 7th, 1941, a date that will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan,” said President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Within an hour of FDR’s speech on December 8th, 1941, Congress voted to bring the United States into World War II. Like many states, Florida would never be the same. World War II was transformative for Florida on many levels. After the war, Florida’s population expanded by 46% with many soldiers returning with their families to work or to further their education on the G.I. Bill.

Meaningful Events
It goes without saying that World War II and America’s subsequent conflicts played a significant role in many of our lives, yet we as Americans, as my Dad used to say, come from good stock and we can handle anything.

These past few years, we Americans have had many opportunities to build and flex our resiliency muscle to see just what we can handle. Experts say that it takes time and intentionality, focusing on connections, wellness, healthy thinking and meaning.

The first week of December 2021 we will have several opportunities to actively blend these intentions, modeling the spirit of our local veterans and pioneering families.

80th Anniversary
This holiday season we will be celebrating 80 years of Christmas in a place whose mystique and magic were challenged in 1941.

• On December 4th from 10:30am – 12pm at Saint John the Evangelist, SWFL Veteran Alliance will host its 12th Annual Greatest Generation & Beyond Tribute that will pay homage to those heroes, who rose to the challenge on that fateful day in 1941, and those sentinels of liberty who followed in their footsteps.

• The following Tuesday, December 7 at 6pm, God willing and the creek don’t rise, the City of Naples will host its annual Downtown Christmas Parade, where our Veterans will once again have VIP seating across from City Hall, where the filming for the parade will be shown on the City tv channel. (For applications, contact City Parks & Recreation at 239-213-7120.)

• Hold onto your Santa hat, there’s a twofer coming Thursday, December 9th from 5:30 – 8:00pm at the
Collier Fairground with the 2nd Annual Reverse Holiday/Christmas Parade. Those community groups and organizations, who put so much work into their floats for the Downtown Christmas Parade, will have an opportunity to bring their floats out to the Fairground early on Wednesday or Thursday to fill more children of all ages with the magic of Christmas. (Contact Sheriff Vaill at

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