Welcome back to Englewood! It’s November and seasonal clubs will start meeting again, the lines will get longer at restaurants, parking will be a bit harder to find and let’s not talk about the traffic. There are a lot of events on our way, but there’s also a lot
The beach might look a bit different to you. In late June, tropical storm Debby stole a lot of sand and dune along the Key, especially along Blind Pass Beach. There’s still plenty of room to spread your towel and the shelling has been great. Some good news, the project at Manasota Beach to add parking, build new restrooms and reconstruct the boardwalk and fishing pier is finally near completion and at press time could finally be finished.
You’ll be happy you missed a worse than average bloom of red tide on just about all our beaches in September. It was especially rough on Manasota Key where high numbers of dead fish washed up on shore and residents and visitors coughed, sneezed and held their noses until the bloom finally eased.
None of that stopped the Englewood Drum Circle, which met nearly every Saturday this summer and continues to meet an hour before sunset, but now on Sundays. “We’re never short on spectators,” said organizer Linda Macchia-Howe. “I just wish we had more drummers off season.” It’s a very family friendly gathering. Bring a drum or percussion instrument, Hula hoop, chair if you prefer to sit, and join the crowd to watch the the sun set by the volleyball courts at Englewood Beach.
The beach was also the site of an invasion of sorts. Walk the Plank productions put on the first Englewood Pirate Festival in late September, featuring vendors selling all things pirate, a masquerade ball, a treasure hunt, and even ship to shore pirate battles with cannon fire. We also had the Pirate Poker Run, with 350 “players” hitting area businesses to create the best hand possible with proceeds supporting Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Sun Coast’s Englewood mentoring program.
Speaking of Big Brothers Big Sisters, in October we had the third annual Cooking For Kids fund-raiser at the Tringali Recreation Center. If you didn’t come hungry, you were in trouble because there was more food than anyone could finish from chicken wings to cupcakes and sausage to shrimp. More than 20 restaurants and chefs participated and the judges and guests had a very tough time choosing the winning dishes. Maybe your favorite local restaurant had a winning dish.
Thanks once again to the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club and support from the community, the sky lit up on July 4th with a fabulous fireworks show. And once again the crowds indulged on crawfish and jambalaya and danced to music by The Gumbo Boogie Band and others at the Cajun Festival held along Dearborn Street. While there was a bit of rain, the big fireworks show went on.
In August, the Hermitage Artist Retreat once again presented a program of visual art and the written word by five Florida public school arts teachers who were awarded residencies in the STAR (State Teachers’ Artist Residency) program. While Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for the scheduled beach reading, it did not keep people away from the program, an arts highlight of the summer.
On the book front, the Elsie Quirk Public Library celebrated its 50th anniversary with a series of programs and exhibits. The Lemon Bay Garden Club contributed to the library’s 50th Anniversary Reading Garden by donating and planting a tree and other local groups joined in the festivities. It’s not too late to wish everyone there a happy anniversary!
Over in Charlotte County it’s a different “story” as the Englewood Charlotte Public Library, located at 3450 N. Access Road is currently closed for a much-anticipated and long-awaited expansion.
A temporary library with limited materials and computer access is scheduled to open in the Tringali Community Center on Nov. 14 and a book drop remains open. Remember, Charlotte County residents are eligible for a Sarasota County library card by bringing I.D. and proof of residence to Elsie Quirk.
Business may slow down during the summer but it doesn’t stop. “ While many people refer to summer months as ‘off season’ for Englewood, we have actually stayed very busy at the Chamber,” said Mary Smith, executive director of the Englewood Chamber of Commerce. “Our networking events, Business Card Exchanges and Networking at Noon stayed at a steady number of participants.”
Elsewhere on the business front, you’ve heard of flash mobs... well Englewood now has a Cash Mob, with organized “hits” by shoppers who descend on a local retailer to spend cash, with an optional party stop after the mob to socialize and review purchases. The best way to find out about the cash mob is to check them out on Facebook at Englewood Cash Mob.
Summer also wasn’t slow at the Suncoast Humane Society. The highlight was Barkaritaville, August 22 at the La Stanza restaurant. Limbo, leis, a ticket auction and good food helped the SHS raise much needed dollars for their facility. Meanwhile the SHS moved it’s Englewood thrift store to a larger space at 228 S. Indiana Ave. But, said Claire Berten, Director of Events and Public Relations. “Just days later, Suncoast Humane suffered fire damage as a result of a lightning strike to a power pole. All 160 animals in the shelter at the time were thankfully unharmed.” And of course, there are always animals available for adoption.
There is no way we can include all the good work done by our civic groups this summer. Kids’ Needs of Englewood sponsored the annual Back to School Bash held at the Englewood Family YMCA on August 4. Hundreds of local children who attended went home with school supplies, shoes, and more. Kids’ Needs works year-round, handing out clothes and shoes to students in area schools and got some good news in May when the Gulf Coast Community Foundation donated funds for one year’s rent on a collection and distribution center in Tiffany Square.
The annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors food drive for Englewood Helping Hand took place on June 13 at Englewood’s on Dearborn. More than 100 Englewood area Girl Scouts, leaders and volunteers helped clean up Stump Pass Beach State Park and Englewood Beach during the annual International Coastal Cleanup on Sept. 15. There were many events held in October for breast cancer awareness, including the annual Ta Ta Friday, celebrity server fund-raiser at Food is Love.
As always, the biggest event of the summer was Pioneer Days. Organizers Christi and Erick Phelps worked overtime this year, staging activities over several weekends and adding new events like the Chalk Festival, The Mad Hatter Fun Run for kids and the Classic Car show after the Parade. Competitors crawled in the Diaper Derby and rowed in the Cardboard Boat Races. They ran and fished and waved from the parade route where dozens of floats, bands, civic groups and co-grand marshals, sisters Tammy Platt Birdsong and Midge Platt Orren filled the streets to the cheers of more than 6,000 people. The Committee didn’t stop there as Christi Phelps, along with other local residents and groups, petitioned Sarasota County to save Pioneer Park on Dearborn Street from development and October 9, the Commissioners unanimously voted to save the space for the community.
The Englewood Area Cancer Foundation held its first “Bonanza” on October 24 at the Gulf View Grill, attracting a big crowd of cancer “warriors” and survivors, caregivers and volunteers. The group under honorary chairs Linda “Miss Kitty” Stevens and Dave “Marshall Dillon” Dignam, have plenty of activities planned to raise dollars and awareness in the fight against cancer.
Englewood Community Hospital welcomed new Chief Executive Officer, Dale F. Alward on Sept. 24th. Mr. Alward and his wife Christy moved here from Terre Haute, Indiana where he had served as Chief Operating Officer and Ethics and Compliance Officer of Terre Haute Regional Hospital. ECH held a well-attended meet and greet on October 30th at the hospital where guests also enjoyed terrific food and picked up health care info.
More than 150 members of Lemon Bay High School’s first graduating classes of 1981-84 had a “mega reunion” in early October. The packed weekend included a tour of the new and improved LBHS and of course cheering on the Manta Rays at the LBHS vs.Port Charlotte game. “We are a special family and we go back a long way,” said Mike Zaccaria, Class of ‘82, and an organizer of the event.
What else did you miss? Aviation fans got their annual flight fix at the sixth annual Buchan Aviation Fly-in Breakfast, with flying machines, pilots, exhibits vendors, and of course, quiche?! Annual events like the Nautical Flea Market, the Warren Loranger Englewood Family YMCA’s Triathlon, The Pete Mason Golf Tournament, and many others, attracted plenty of regulars and newcomers. So the next time anyone says Englewood has a slow season, they might want to think again.
Now that things are really kicking into gear, don’t forget to keep up with activities by reading the Englewood Review and visiting our website at www.englewoodreview.com.