Scene & Heard
Rave from Critic
Florida Rep is getting quite a rep. Our little jewel of a theater in downtown Fort Myers not only got a rave review from The Wall Street Journal for its January production of Sylvia but also got these words of praise from Journal critic Terry Teachout: “After three visits, I feel secure in saying that Florida Rep is one of America’s top repertory companies.” Its talented and dedicated Producing Artistic Director Robert Cacioppo, beaming from the accolades, declared he’s both “humbled and moved” by Teachout’s praise. Deserving, too, along with his actress wife, Carrie Lund, and the rest of the splendid team.
Call it a picture-book event. The families of Old Fort Myers and their friends brought out their finest in January for the annual Edison-Ford Winter Estates Foundation Gala. The stars twinkled over the Caloosahatchee on a gorgeous night of dinner and dancing under an enormous white tent sparkling with white lights along the riverfront. Special guest Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Co., charmed the crowd of 350 and, in turn, seemed just as taken with them. The mission was to raise money to preserve the Estates along McGregor Boulevard, said to be the most visited historic attraction in all of Florida. This couldn’t have been done more graciously and, honestly, this was one of the most beautiful and best-dressed crowds I have seen in this town in years. Classy, classy, classy.
Feel the Buzz
Oh, what a feeling. The David Lawrence Foundation chose the Naples Yacht Club for its annual gala in January, and you could see the joy on the faces of the 250 well-heeled guests in their surroundings. The club in Old Naples just has it—exuding a sense of richness and comfort that seduces all who pass through its doors. The organizers had a hard time getting guests to break away from the reception and take their seats for dinner. People appeared so engaged with each other, catching up after the holidays. I had the pleasure of emceeing the event, along with my favorite celebrity auctioneer, Naples Mayor Bill Barnett. That man can just bring it, coaxing the crowd out of its money for some big-ticket items, including a rare Tibetan art piece. Thanks to Robin and Pat Stranahan for making our job on the auction block easier. On this night, only a week after the tragedy in Tucson, we were all reminded of how important it is to have such a well-respected mental health treatment facility in our community. Thank you, David Lawrence.
Speaking of the mayor … he whispered to me at dinner that he is not done with public service just yet. Because of term limits, he’s in his last year as mayor, but he says he does plan to run again for City Council. Who can forget some of his finest hours? Just remember, for example, his heroic turn during and after Hurricane Wilma in 2006, when he helped guide his city through the disaster with his calm demeanor and stream of updates on local and national TV. What a Neapolitan! It’s a comfort—and honor—to have such a guy around who wants to keep giving. He’ll find his platform, I’m sure.
Fun and Food
Bank on it. FineMark Bank cares … and knows how to get the message across. For its first FineMark Family Fun Fest last December, bank employees invited 550 people—children and their parents—to Treeline Elementary School for a day of excitement featuring barbecue, face painting, games and clowns. Each family went home with an entire shopping cart full of food. FineMark’s bill of $10,000 (and countless man hours) was well worth it. “The response was amazing,” FineMark executive Jessica Stilwell says. “We wanted to make sure no children went hungry over the winter break.”
Congratulations to everybody’s favorite female meteorologist, Haley Webb, and her husband, Jon. On Jan. 18, they welcomed their first child, son Jackson Rivera, into the world. Haley has been getting up at 2:30 every morning for the past five years, so she should be well-equipped for the sleepless nights ahead!
I’m delighted to hear that the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee’s Taste of Spain event at the Naples Yacht Club in January topped its net profit from last year by $25,000. Raising $300,000 to help needy families and educate kids—given our cold winter forcing many farm workers out of jobs—couldn’t have come at a better time.
Remember back in college when they had coin night at the local pub? Well, Naples Tomato restaurant in North Naples has got its own version of this. But, instead of cheap keg beer, it’s offering … lasagna! One nickel will get you a huge, mouth-watering, meat-and-cheese stuffed piece—and from the looks of the room on a recent Sunday night, this treat is filling seats as well as bellies.