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From The Editor

David SendlerAh, the sweet capacity for joy you find in our fellow citizens. To provide a little bonus coverage for our “10 Best Nights Out," I invited some of our local pacesetters to share the evenings they found most memorable. What I got back involves tales of (really, really) grand entrances, a motorcycle, bioluminescence, a stretch limo golf cart and more.

“When in serious need of a night out, I call my girls. The favorite night out for us actually starts at about 2:00 in the afternoon. We all meet at the Naples Grande, drop a long evening’s worth of bags in our room and head poolside. After a few hours of catching up, fashion mags and rotating through the spa one by one, we get ready for the treasure hunt. Splitting into teams, we race around town collecting jelly beans, Starbucks coffee and glo-bracelets, ending up at our favorite people-watching spot in all of Naples—AZN. Easy, light dinner with more friends joining us there. Then on to Burn for the best DJing in town and over to Blue Martini to burn up the rest of the night. There’s nothing more fun than a formidable group of women going dancing. We head back to the hotel and down to the hot tub, faces hurting from laughing, the rest of our bodies hurting from dancing, and recap the fun of the night.” —Julie Koester, a founder and past board chairperson of the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples and soon-to-be Ph.D. in public health

“My wife, Wynne, and I love our restaurants, but it’s great to get away from them, too. If the weather is good, we put the top down on Wynne’s convertible and head out to enjoy the warm air and starry-filled nights and great dining. We get to talk about everything but business. It is so rejuvenating. Over the years, we’ve dined in almost every restaurant Naples has to offer. My favorites (besides, of course, my own)? KC American Bistro, Alexanders, Café Lurcat, Escargot 41, Kelly’s Fish House and M Waterfront Grille.” —Tony Ridgway, co-owner of Ridgway Bar & Grill, Tony’s Off Third and Bayside Seafood Grill & Bar

“Memorable? How cool I pretended to be when, as honorary co-chair of Arts For ACT weekend last August, I allowed myself to be lowered from the ceiling of Harborside Convention Center to the stage and then hopped on a motorcycle driven by Sheriff Mike Scott. Actor Bill Cobbs and singer Bobby Goldsborough were our celebrity guests, and after the event the committee walked around downtown to unwind from a busy day. I’m still smiling over the great show biz stories from Bill Cobbs.” —Sandy Stilwell, owner/CEO of Stilwell Enterprises & Restaurant Group

“This was a date very early in my time in Naples and … wow. First, dinner at Yabba’s, very island and very much an escape from the New York I had come from. Then, McCabe’s with the yummy beer and the folk songs and dancing to warm this Irish girl’s heart. I was absolutely charmed that locals of all ages were there kicking up their heels together. Finally, the utter romance of the bioluminescence I saw in the water off Venetian Village. The bacteria or whatever light that water so dramatically; skip a stone through it and the multiple colors bloom like the Northern Lights. How can you beat all that?” —Vanessa Rogers, photographer

“The setting was Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages and Marina on Captiva Island, run by a fabulous trio of brothers. Sitting out front of the shed they call an office was a sparkling red, brand-new, luxury stretch limo golf cart. I had to grovel, but they let me borrow the rig for an evening of bar-hopping. The first stop was to pick up Lou Ann and a half-dozen other ladies getting off the late shift at the Mucky Duck and needing a lift to Chadwick’s. It seemed only natural that we should let everyone get a good look at the hottest new wheels on the island, so through the door and on to the dance floor we did drive, with a drumroll from the Danny Morgan Band. I did get in a few adult beverages and some harmonica accompaniment to Danny’s band. But the vehicle didn’t go home as easily at it had arrived. The following morning I barely recognized the sparkling new sled, missing its rear view mirrors and sporting dents not there the day before. I’m hoping for forgiveness. Maybe the Jensens will like this publicity and hand over the keys one more time. After all, the night is young.” —John Biffar, filmmaker

This article appears in the January 2012 issue of Gulfshore Life.

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