by Lois Bolin
Old Naples Historian
Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If the beholder’s eye is that of a tourist related business or that of a local resident, the value of the Snowbirds can be disproportional and fluctuates throughout the year.
The term Snowbird has been in use since the late 1600s, but it has only been applied to humans since the early 1900s when northern laborers would flock south just as the cold, harsh winter set in up north. Today, all kinds of Snowbirds, from vacationers to retirees, set their sights southward when the first frost appears.
Naples was established to attract Snowbirds to this “never-never land of impossible charm,” where birds of a feather flocked together to enjoy the other types of birds that were plentiful along Naples shoreline and her swamps.
Pioneers’ affinity for wildlife was so great that when the Town of Naples Charter was established, section 26.4.b made the city of Naples a sanctuary for birds thus declaring the city to be a bird sanctuary.
Nowhere did I see the term Snowbird. Yet, like clockwork, Neapolitans are imprinted with the signs of their initial arrival in October when the habitual nest fluffing begins followed by the full onslaught in mid-January, which signals that it’s open season for galas and charity events.
While some see Snowbirds as travel time impediments or trespassers on their claim to their favorite restaurant, we know, in our heart of hearts, that Snowbirds are a lifeline to our area’s economic stability.
OFF SHOULDER SEASON
Tropicool, one of Naples first events to celebrate the end of tourist season in the 1980s, has been replaced with CityFest, a tribute to the closing (May) and opening (October) of season with the focus on activities for both locals and visitors alike.
EVENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO MAY – JULY ARE:
- May 1 Taste of Collier (36th)
- April 24-May 8 Arts World Festival
- May 14 Great Dock Canoe Race (40th)
- May 25 SWFL Veterans Alliance Lunch*
- June Third Street’s Farmers Market (Every Saturday)
- July 4 City Parade
One business in Naples has taken their value for Snowbirds to a whole new altitude by designing a prototype educational program for their agents and collaborating agencies around the country. McQuaid Company & Real Estate Services, the same company that brings you Taste of Collier and Rockin’ the Point concerts, reaches out to let Snowbirds know that they don’t just talk the talk – they walk – or fly it as well.
As a McQuaid agent and resident Old Naples historian, I can attest that values, community, fun and service is the fabric of Tiffany McQuaid’s company, which is stitched together with the golden threads of creativity – lots of creativity. One needs only to peer through the windows of McQuaid’s offices at Bayfront and Coconut Point or check the comparative standings of this unique boutique real estate company to see how true my words are.
We love telling Snowbirds that through word of mouth, since 1890, when Walter Halderman first began promoting his dream community through the Louisville Courier, Naples has attracted Captains of Industry and Captains of Boats and those who wanted to see what this little bend in the road was all about. It’s with great pride when we share that thanks to them, Naples has been named the #1 Best Destination for Luxury Travelers (USA TODAY’s 10 Best travel section); the #1 Small Art Town in the country (John Villani, The 100 Best Art Towns in America, 2005); America’s Best All-Around Beaches; Top American Cities for Food and 30 Best Small Cities in America by readers of Conde Nast Traveler; and the lists go on and on.
Yes, we love our Snowbirds – especially when we understand how much value they bring to our community in supporting our local charities and tax base through tourists tax. Yes, we love when Snowbirds take their northern flight but we also love when their hearts are filled with a yearning for warmth and return to this land of impossible charm hoping that maybe this will be the year they will clip their wings to make this place their forever home.
*Jerry Yellin, Pilot who flew the last mission of WWII. Call 239.777.2281 for details.