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Here & Now: A Repositioning...

Gulfshore Insider: The Way

A not-yet 50-year-old woman told me the other day that she moved to Naples to be closer to her children. Try to envision it: Here’s a woman in her physical and professional prime (49 is the new 29, as you know) who happily abandoned a glamorous American city—and not to vacation or retire, or be a babysitting grandma, or even to watch over aging parents. Whoa.

As Bob Dylan warned us, the times, they are a-changin’. A whole new generation of emerging and mid-career professionals and entrepreneurs are putting down roots here in Paradise. Snowbirds are getting way younger, too. The Internet has so profoundly changed the way we conduct business in this century that even corporate executives based up north are spending winters here. Why? Because they can.

Nothing could be greater than a young, vibrant community that is a magnet for culture and the arts, sensational chefs and world-class retail brands, right? Well frankly, I’m extremely concerned about the grave new problem this presents.

Specifically: what to do about “Season.”

Here’s the thing. The natives here on the Gulfshore have had trouble enough with the textbook definition of seasons. I mean, what exactly is autumn, people? And if that’s not bad enough, the rules keep changing. Take a look at this timeline.

Stage 1
Ancient history. The term “season” refers to whatever wildlife is legal to “harvest” at any particular time of year. As in snook season or deer season.

Stage 2

Discovery by Thomas Edison.Wealthy industrialists and quirky inventors slip down for a few weeks in February to go hunting, fishing or puttering about in their laboratories incognito. So now we have two seasons: Winter (February) and Regular (the other 11 months).

Stage 3

The ladies arrive. The industrialists and inventors start bringing the wives, thus totally destroying the order of things. They come with steamer trunks and a social agenda, planning to stay from New Year’s Day until the snow melts up north.

Stage 4

Southwest Florida officially starts writing the word “season” with a capital S.

Season now runs from January to March. The other nine months are Off Season.

Stage 5

Saks Fifth Avenue, The Naples Philharmonic Center for the Arts, the Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Roy Yamaguchi show up. “Season” stretches another month, now encompassing January through April.

Stage 5, present day

It finally happens. There’s not an inch left on the social calendar for another single tête à tête. Organizers are doing the unimaginable: hosting world-class events before and after the socially accepted months. Snowbirds who aren’t paying attention are missing out, and they’re not happy about that. “Season” is about to get redefined.

Stage 6

The future. I suggest we take a cue from the cruise industry and establish Repositioning Season. Here’s how it works. Cruise ships that winter in the tropics sail back to Europe, Canada or Alaska for the summer. Then, they reverse the route and go back to the tropics before the weather turns cold.

So, here’s my proposed new calendar, effective immediately:

January through April
The Season

Repositioning Season (northbound)

October through December
Repositioning Season (southbound)

June, July and September
Off Season

August, of course, is off the table. That’s when hard-working locals get to hang that precious sign on the door. “Out to lunch. Back next Wednesday. Or September.”



If you miss Repositioning Season

On October 27

You’ll miss the Brew-ha-ha on the lawn at Mercato, the place to be in North Naples for the iconic Georgia/Florida football game, and that same weekend (October 26-28) you’ll miss the Stone Crab Festival down on the Old Naples Waterfront.

If you can’t make it by November 1

You won’t get to be part of the glamorous, red carpet opening night film party at the Phil, or any of the other screenings and events of the Naples International Film Festival. Really? You’re willing to miss this? naplesfilmfest.com.

On November 3

You’ll miss the first-ever wet, muddy, back-to-nature 10K run through the primitive trails, majestic sawgrass marshes, swampy sloughs, cow pastures, oak hammocks and flatlands of the Corkscrew Regional Ecosystem Watershed (CREW). If you love the National Audubon Society’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary right next door, but wish you could get even closer to nature, this is your event. crewtrust.org.

If you don’t arrive before November 5

You’ll miss the preview concert for the second annual ArtsNaples World Festival, which this year will feature the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, performing Gershwin’s Cuban Overture among others. And if you leave our shores too soon, you’ll miss the whole fabulous week-long immersion into Latin American culture, which begins in early May. artsnaplesworldfestival.org.

On November 15

You and your fabulous hat won’t just miss the most celebrated garden party of the year, you’ll miss a fabulous photo op, because Michael Kors, fashion designer to celebs from First Lady Michelle Obama to film stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Jennifer Lopez, will be presenting. Check out Hats in the Garden at naplesgarden.org.

If you stick to the old season parameters

You’ll never see the Swamp Buggy Queen dunked into the Sippy Hole or the quirky Swamp Buggy Parade, both in October. And you’ll never experience the most hilarious canoe race on the planet, The Great Dock Canoe Race in mid-May. The first one’s been going on for 63 years now, and the second one for 36 years. swampbuggy.com; greatdockcanoerace.com.

And saddest yet

All throughout December, you’ll miss the spectacular holiday boat parades, from Sanibel to Marco Islands, along rivers and bays throughout Fort Myers, Naples, Fort Myers Beach, Estero and Bonita Springs; from tricked-out rowboats to jaw-dropping yachts decked in twinkling lights. You’ll also miss the iconic Sanibel luminary festival the first week in December. And that’s a shame, because this is what Paradise is all about. —KB

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