Thankfulness may be on people’s minds more than ever this month for people living in Fort Myers and other Southwest Florida communities, including Estero.
As WBBH-TV of Fort Myers reported on October 30, Southwest Florida’s tourist season generally begins following Thanksgiving. But this year, it noted, the snowbirds began to arrive by late October to check on damage to winter homes and communities from Hurricane Irma.
This early influx of tourists is particularly welcome, WBBH noted due to the loss of late summer tourism during the wild hurricane season of 2017. The station noted that 20 percent of Lee County’s population works in tourism, an industry that constitutes $30 billion of the region’s annual income.
Thankful for Survival of Holiday Nights
In its November issue, Gulfshore Life reports that many of our region’s most beloved attractions have moved heaven and tons of earthen debris to reopen in time for snowbird season.Popular both with tourists and local residents, these attractions include the Edison & Ford Winter Estates, which will be bedecked in thousands of lights for its beloved Holiday Nights celebration.
The estates are reopening in phases following the loss of 150 trees and shrubs, some of which inventor Thomas Alva Edison and automaker Henry Ford planted.
Fortunately, Edison’s famous banyan tree – a rubber tree relative and a gift from manufacturer Harvey Firestone in 1925 – remains standing. The tree is more like a community. Aerial roots spread from the branches of what was once a tiny potted specimen to root and form a 1-acre banyan forest of connected trees.
However, to illustrate the power of Hurricane Maria, Gulfshore Life shows the ceo of Edison & Ford Estates standing in front of an uprooted 1950s Mysore fig tree with a root ball “as tall as a house.”
Thankful for Community Outreach
Here are some ways to help locally at the Thanksgiving season.
Fundraiser Concert. Hurricane Irma also damaged many family homes. On Sunday, November 19, at 7 p.m. the Gulf Coast Symphony will perform a fundraiser Concert for the Community.
In addition to the ticket proceeds it will donate to local community organization distributing help to those in need, the Symphony is encouraging donations of cash, home supplies, non-perishable food and pet food.
Feast for Folks in Need. Want to help provide Thanksgiving dinner for people from Port Charlotte to Immokalee? The annual outreach event, Feeding the 5000, needs volunteers Thanksgiving week to prepare, package and deliver meals.
CContributions to Community Cooperative. If you are looking for ways to contribute to Hurricane Irma relief, the Lee County Community Cooperative could use donations of cash and food. The organization’s Irma initiative is helping people who “simply need to catch up from a loss of income” due to the storm.
Thankful for Fun Events
Thanksgiving week is a fine time to get out to the beach and water for fun.
Sandsculpting Competition. If you’ve been living in Estero and Fort Myers for a while, you may be aware that one popular Thanksgiving 2017 event will be the American Sandsculpting Championship to be held November 17 to 26 on Fort Myers Beach. It’s the biggest event of its kind in the nation and features live music and sandsculpting lessons.