Tuesday, October 19, 2021

An Extraordinary Event in an Extraordinary Community

Goodland Life

Shelly and Anya Colley

Shelly Colley, Sherri Morrison and Noreen Seegers contributed to this Goodland Life column.

Every spring, since 2013, Goodlanders break bread together under the spreading rubber trees and the beautiful pavilion at Margood Park. In 2012, the park and pavilion were gifts from Collier County. In 2013, the Spring Fling, as we call it, was the brainchild of former Goodland Civic Association President, Greg Bello, who could be counted on to chair it each year. “It is the GCA’s gift to the community in recognition of their support for the GCA,” he said. We knew that if Greg was chairing the event, it would turn out well. On February 20, 2018 after five years of helping to make this a better community, Greg stepped down from the GCA board and largely from Goodland public life, for a well-deserved breather. For the next month, we looked unsuccessfully for a replacement to chair the Spring Fling. Greg was a tough act to follow.

A month later, at our March 20, town meeting, a last ditch “Hail Mary” appeal was made for volunteers to organize the Spring Fling. After what, to me, seemed like an eternity, Pat Albee, long active in the community, and Noreen Seegers a long time former GCA board member, volunteered to co-chair the event. Their selfless offers to serve were what finally got the ball rolling. Now there was a rallying point for other volunteers. I believe that had they not volunteered at that time and in that place there would have been no time to stage the Fling before half our residents had returned to their summer homes up north. Now the date could be set. The earliest it could be done was Saturday April 14. There were so many things to be done and not much time to do them.

The Spring Fling is, hands down, Goodland’s favorite event. It unites old friends and makes new ones. There is a lot of eating and greeting going on, while at the same time, professional musicians, also local volunteers, are serenading the crowd. Added to this are constant announcements as to who has won one of the many free prizes put up by area merchants. It is a joyful cacophonous din in the most beautiful setting in Goodland. It is the sound of a lot of people having a lot of fun.

It is also a massive logistical undertaking. In the weeks leading up to it, some of the volunteers (there were over a dozen) worked 24/7 to insure its success. They are not given any money by the GCA. These volunteers must get the word out, prepare the site, and somehow provide food and drink for upwards of 250 people, all on a zero budget.

Jeannie Steele at the pastry table.

Getting the word out is a large effort by itself. For years, we have posted flyers on our two GCA display cases and sent email notices to our members and friends. A few years ago, the committee began posting the flyers on the Goodland Buddies Facebook page. This year, in an unprecedented move, committee members, visited every residence and business in Goodland. If no one was home, a flyer was left. None of this cost the GCA a cent. The flyers were produced by a committee member who is professional graphic designer. They were printed up (300 of them – in color) and shipped to us, same day, by a GCA board member, who offered the facilities and staff of his business to do the job.

Preparing the site was mostly grunt work. Tables and chairs had to be hauled over from the Community Center. Heavy propane grills to cook the hamburgers and hotdogs had to be installed. A PA system and stage for the musicians had to be erected and additional tables provided for various activities. Literally everything a visitor saw, used, or ate (and there was a lot to see and eat this year) was provided and set up by volunteers.

This year, there was more to see than in past years. The grassy area next to the pavilion was entirely given over to our children. Yes, we do have some youngsters in Goodland. In past years it was used as a parking lot for golf carts. Now it was festooned by colorful pennants and a lot of mysterious equipment all of which was colorful and alluring. One of our board members turned out to be an obsessively creative artist from the U.K. with a love of Goodland and of children. She had labored incessantly to plan, create and buy materials for the kids. There was rock painting, face painting, plant pot painting and seed planting, coloring books, glass painting, paper flower painting and games with prizes, all attended by volunteers. By 1:00 the kids were into it having a great time. Over a dozen showed up; friends had apparently invited friends.

Lastly, the food, oh that food: Since this event began in 2013, Goodland’s four excellent restaurants and fish market had provided the bulk of the food with residents chipping in with their own special dishes, and all of the pastries and deserts. Publix often contributes as well. This year, after the devastation of Hurricane Irma, only Stan’s, The Little Bar, and Kirk’s Fish market were back in business. They stepped up to the plate. Cumulatively they donated French fries, sweet potato fries, 200 hotdogs with buns and 200 hamburgers with buns, cole slaw, potato salad, tomatoes, lettuce, diced onions, baked beans, relish and pickles, and lots of practical advice from Ray Bozicnik. Kirk’s sent over their famous lobster spread, and all the ice we could possibly need. Publix provided soft drinks, lettuce, forks knives spoons napkins, water, mustard, and ketchup.

I have lived all over the U.S. There is no place like Goodland, especially in the spring.

Barry was a practicing attorney before he worked as a Special Agent of the FBI for 31 years.  Barry worked for several government agencies another ten years before retiring to Goodland in 2006. Barry is presently the Secretary of the Goodland Civic Association.

Angie Moore, Bill and Laurie Van Dorn

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