Archive for October, 2014

Halloween in Downtown Punta Gorda: Where the Big Kids Play

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014


Smiling, giggling, & candy-lovin' Punta Gorda residents

Smiling, giggling, & candy-lovin’ Punta Gorda residents


Gather ‘round, Punta Gordians, I’m going to tell you a secret.

Sit. Get ready. It may shock you.

Ask anyone why Halloween in Punta Gorda is such a big deal and you’ll get the same answer: It’s for the children. Our community supports two weekends of costumes, haunted houses, and candy for the children. We love seeing their smiling faces as we fill their bags.

And the children do smile. And giggle. And eat candy.

But Halloween in Punta Gorda isn’t just for the children. Don’t be fooled. You see, Punta Gorda seems to attract a certain kind of adult. The kind of adult that is often referred to as a “big kid.”

The main difference between a small kid and a “big kid”

Small kids would never get two weekends of Halloween.

Imagine this: Your kid (or any kid you know) asks if they can celebrate two weekends of Halloween. No. No. No. Halloween happens once a year.

Now imagine Halloween falls on a Friday night, as it does this year. The big kids realize if we stick to the once-a-year-rule, our big Halloween party, the Haunting on the Harbor, will seem anti-climatic. So they ask themselves, can we do two weekends of Halloween parties? Yes. Yes. Yes.

The party started Friday night with Zombie University, a cover band. Nothing screams for the grown-ups like a cover band.

Don’t get me wrong I love grown-ups

Heck, I am one. But it’s time we stop pretending that Halloween in downtown Punta Gorda is for the children. While the kids dress up as princesses, ghosts, and ghouls, the big kids pretend to be grown-ups. It’s a waste of energy.

It takes a big kid to turn a house into a pirate ship.

It takes a big kid to turn a house into a pirate ship.

Instead, spend your energy playing downtown this Halloween.

If you’ve never been, you’re missing out. Families from all over the county and neighboring counties land on our small town to trick or treat. Downtown Punta Gorda does Halloween right. People convert their homes into haunted houses. Lawns are decorated. And candy—not pennies, apples, or toothbrushes—is everywhere.

To repay the downtown community for their hard work, kids come out dressed in their imaginary personas and Trick or Treat. And they look cute, giggle, and eat candy.

You can be part of the fun.

You don’t have to live downtown or have small children around to take part. Every year I notice more and more adults pulling out the lawn chairs and heading downtown to hand out candy. Plus, the Haunting on the Harbor is still going on.

Now that you know the secret to Halloween in Punta Gorda, I hope to see you downtown!



7 Simple Punta Gorda-themed Halloween Costume Ideas

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014


Punta Gorda Halloween

Halloween is serious business in Punta Gorda

Don’t have your costume picked out for Halloween yet? If you don’t know already, Punta Gorda does Halloween in a big way.

This year we’re starting a week early with the Smuggler’s annual Haunting on the Harbor. There’ll be bands, food, and a haunted house. The Boo ball is this Friday as well. Next weekend, downtown transforms into a haunted candy land.

With all this going on, you’re going to need a costume. And if you’ve waited ‘til now, you’re probably scoping the internet for ideas.

I’ve got ideas you won’t see anywhere but in Punta Gorda:

1. A snowbird: You could throw fake snow on a rented bird costume. Or if the temperature dips below 70 put on a pair of shorts. Residents should take care. Shorts in 68 degrees is dangerously chilly. You might be better off dressing as your friend who’s still up north.

2. Your friend who’s still up North: Your friend up north spent days putting together the perfect costume. Then, they cover it up with a winter coat. In Punta Gorda, the winter coat is costume enough. Simply put a winter coat over any outfit and you’ll scare any Floridian.

(Don’t be surprised if bewildered locals attempt to touch your sleeves. To us, winter coats are like zombies. We’ve heard of them, but we never really believed they existed.)



3. Monty the Mailbox Manatee: You know you’re leading the good life when you have time skirt your manatee mailbox. This season instead of dressing up your mailbox, why not dress as your mailbox. Some grey fabric, a funky skirt, and a party flag and you’ll be trick or treat ready.

4. A Modern-Day Punta Gorda Pirate: Over a hundred years ago, pirates sailed up and down the Gulf coast violently making their way onto other ships. Pirating was hard work.

Since then, Punta Gorda has become embarrassingly friendly. Our pirate heritage would be horrified. You can be a modern-day pirate without the criminal activity, the peg leg, or much work. Simply, walk around the docks at any marina with a case of beer. Smile at people. I can’t guarantee it, but eventually someone will probably invite you onto their boat.

5. The Fighting Tarpon: While probably the hardest costume to put together on this list, the Tarpon gets ten spirit fingers. Punta Gorda is home to the Fighting Tarpon. While anglers catch Tarpons up and down the coast, Punta Gorda is the only town with the Tarpon as the high school mascot.

If you went to Charlotte High, you know the old saying, “Don’t you wish you could be a fish?” Now’s your chance to be the fish you always dreamed of being.

6. An outdoor festival: As I reported a few weeks ago, Punta Gorda life is nothing but a succession of outdoor social events.

To achieve this look, you simply need to gather the things at every outdoor event: a guitar symbolizing live music, an icy beverage, a folding chair, and slew of good friends.

7. Any character from any Jimmy Buffet song: Want to be a Son of a Son of a Sailor Man? The guy wasting away in Margaritaville? You can! Most (if not all) Buffet songs are set in paradise. You’re in paradise. Your costume is already half done. All you need is a Hawaiian shirt and a clock set at 5 O’clock.

I hope these ideas helped you. If I see just one of you dressed like a manatee mailbox, I will know that I’ve truly done my job.

How Does Punta Gorda Keep the Canal System Looking So Gorgeous?

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

ponce inlet croppedby

When you buy a waterfront home in PGI or BSI, it’s likely to be the first time you’ve lived on a canal. While it’s exciting to have this gorgeous waterway in your backyard, it’s normal to have questions about how the Punta Gorda canal system is maintained.

Recently, we learned of plans to start dredging the Ponce de Leon inlet. I used the news to strike up a conversation with Gary Disher, Punta Gorda’s Canal Maintenance Supervisor.

Disher was nice enough to explain everything new homeowners need to know about canal maintenance and the work happening on the Ponce de Leon Inlet.

How long have you been working with our canal system?

Disher: I started out as a contractor. It’s been about 3-4 years now that I’ve been working with them at some level.

Can you tell me a little more about the canal maintenance program?

Disher: It covers anything with the seawalls, depressions behind the seawalls. We do mangrove trimming, all of the aids to navigation, and the dredging program through the navigable portion of the waterways.

What do new residents, who maybe have never lived on a canal, need to know about maintaining their seawall and canal?

Disher: The best thing is that if anything happens to their wall they can get in contact with our Public Works department and they’ll be put in contact with me or the work order will go up front. Pretty much anything that goes on with their seawall we take care of. That’s a huge benefit to a homeowner.

I understand you’re dredging the Ponce De Leon inlet. Why is the dredging necessary?

Disher: We have an ongoing dredging maintenance program. We’ve got several inlets Bass, Pompano, Ponce, and the Burnt Store subdivision and other locations within the Punta Gorda canal system.

As the tides flow through, it carries sediment. Sediment settles and eventually the bottom builds up. A yearly thing we do is go out and do maintenance dredging to make sure our home owners can get in and out with their boats to the permitted canal cross sections for depth and width. We want to make sure whoever buys a home has access to the waterways.

You dredge every year or on a rotation?

Disher: It’s on an as needed basis. I was notified of one yesterday. A resident in Burnt Store Isles bumped bottom in a certain location. They’re going to give me some GPS coordinates. Then I’ll get the contractor out there with the dredge and make sure they remove that high spot.

With the Ponce inlet, it’s been quite awhile. I’m not sure how many years it’s been since we’ve done a full re-profile dredge. We’ve gone out and hit the high spots here and there. Now I want to go ahead and go through the headpins 1 and 2 all the way into the perimeter channel and make sure the entire channel is at its designated cross section.

If you didn’t dredge, what would happen to our canal system?

Disher: It would start limiting boat access, especially the larger sailboats would not be able to get out from the canal system and if they were bringing a boat in, they wouldn’t be able to get in.

If we don’t keep that maintained, I’ll get the call–especially in the winter low tides. Even when it’s dredged, we have some rather large sailboats in the area and if they don’t stay in the middle of the channel, they can find the bottom and I get the call. We’re just being proactive. We don’t have many issues now, but I want to make sure we’re ready for the winter season with all the residents coming back in.

When will dredging in the inlet begin?

Disher: We had a pre-kickoff meeting yesterday. We discussed are staging and how we’re going to route stuff. We verified the depths.

From the boat ramp out to the headpins or 1 and 2 markers, the dredge is to 8 feet deep. From the boat ramp in—inside the inlet from the mangrove line/shoreline to where the seawall starts at the perimeter channel–that’s permitted to  6 feet deep below low mean.

And you think this will take you to the beginning of the year?

Disher: That was our estimation. A good three months of digging possibly.

What do boaters need to know about passing through the inlet during this time?
Disher: They should keep doing what they’re doing.

We’re not going to be blocking the entire channel. They may have a delay if there is other boats passing. We talked about how to set up turbidity screens to allow boaters to still get through and get out.

We just want boaters to use caution. Just be aware of the workers and the dredge. We don’t want anyone getting hurt out there.

To sum up–Gary and his team are on it! You can move here and not know the first thing about canal maintenance. In fact, you can live here for thirty years and still not know anything about canal maintenance. You just need to know the number to Public Works: 941-575-5050.





9 Fun Things to Do in Punta Gorda this October

Wednesday, October 8th, 2014

by Neat_Repeats_flyer_medium

It’s a common problem.

You moved to Punta Gorda for the easy life.

Yet you’ve never been so busy.

The real problem is your calendar used to be full of things you didn’t want to do. In Punta Gorda, that’s changed. Now, there’s too much you don’t want to miss.

Between the golf games, tennis tournaments, and town social events, you can’t keep up. October is the month where the Punta Gorda party calendar gets into full swing. There’s a lot going on. Some say it’s impossible to go to it all, but you can do it. I believe in you and you’re ability to get the most out of the good life.

To help organize your social calendar and ensure you don’t miss out, I put together a list of local happenings this month:

1. Saturday, October 11, 2014: TV Personality Stephen C. Marlowe talks about Cryptozoology: Have you ever been to a talk on Cryptozoology? No, you probably didn’t have time for stuff like this in your old life. But now you can. I’m betting you’ll find it interesting
Time: 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Where: Copperfish Books 1205 Elizabeth Street Punta Gorda, FL 33950

2. Sunday, October 12, 2014: Shop for a Cause at Neat Repeats and support the Peace River Wildlife Center: If you’ve never been to the wildlife center (or even if you have), it’s worth a trip. On the 12th, Neat Repeats, a vintage store in Port Charlotte is giving 10% of the day’s sale to the Peace River Wildlife Center.
Time:11:00-4:00 PM

3. Tuesday, October 14, 2014 Hemingway in Florida talk at the Women’s Club
Award winning author, Diane Gilbert Madsen, will give a talk on Hemingway’s life in Florida.
Time: 7:00 PM

4. Thursday, October 16, 2014: Sipping in the Dark
This wine for a cause event will have you tasting and doing good at the same time. Proceeds go to the Visually Impaired of Charlotte County.
Time: 5:30 PM
Donation: $10
RSVP: 941-627-1650
Where: Big Crush Wines

5. Saturday, October 18, 2014: The Flip Flop Ball benefitting Komen SWFL
Trade in your black tie for a pair of flip flops. Enjoy live music from the Trop Rock Junkies, food, and drink.
Time: 6 PM-10:00 PM
Where: Four Points Sheraton

6. Wednesday, October 22, 2014: Wine and Swine Pig Roast Fundraiser AMI Kids Event
Yes, more wine for a good cause. Do you catch the theme? Punta Gordians like to have fun and give back at the same time. And this event promises a pig roast.
Time: 6:00 PM-9:00 PM
Where: Orange House Wine Bar

7. Friday, October 24, 2014: Celebrity Drag Show
Every town needs a drag show. Men attempting to walk in high heels is worth the $10 admission. Call Theresa Desguin for more information: 941-815-0324
Where: Punta Gorda Women’s Club

8. Friday, October 24, 2014: Boo Ball benefitting the American Red Cross
This is an annual town favorite. Get dressed up, but don’t forget your dancing shoes.
Time: 7:00-11:00 PM
Where: Charlotte County Cultural Center
Get tickets here.

 9. October 24, 25 & 30, 31: The Haunting on the Harbor

This event gets bigger and spooookier every year. Visit the haunted house or just enjoy the festival. For more information, check out their flier.





Have You Noticed an Increase in Lederhosen Around Punta Gorda Lately?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

by rotate3

Yes, it’s Oktoberfest.

And of course, Punta Gorda celebrates it.

Yet, this year seems a little heavy on the hosen.

For the past six years, Punta Gorda celebrated Oktoberfest on the first Friday of the month. We’d get together to eat bratwurst, dance to oompah music, and enjoy icy beverages. One Oktoberfest evening might’ve seemed like enough.

But it wasn’t.

Last weekend, we started celebrating our Oktoberfest a little early with the Bavarian Bash.

Why two weekends of Oktoberfest?

Punta Gorda is not a particularly German city. While we certainly have many German residents and residents of German descent, we have folks from all over the world.

As a lover of a good brat and sauerkraut, I’d like to say we simply have good taste in food. And while that’s true, I think there’s something more to it.

If you’ve lived here more than a year, you know what I’m talking about. You’ve noticed a trend. For you newbies, see if you can spot the pattern in the series.

The following is a snippet of the annual events around Punta Gorda:

October— Oktoberfest and the halloween festival, which includes three days of outdoor celebrations.

November—Tree lighting festival. Everybody gets together and celebrates in the streets.

December—Two lighted boat parades. Everybody gets together and celebrates on the canals.

January—The Crafts Fair and the Chili and Beer fest. Everybody gets together and does some outdoor shopping and celebrating.

February– The Jazz Festival. Some of the most influential jazz musicians of our day play and  the locals sit outside and celebrate.

March—St. Patrick’s day festival. Everybody gets together and celebrates outdoors.

April–The Block Party. Everybody gets together and celebrates outdoors.

June–Pirate Fest. Everybody gets together and celebrates outdoors.

July—Independence day festival. All day and evening celebrations, including award-winning fireworks.

Do you see the pattern?
As a people, Punta Gordians can’t go more than a few weeks without a big, outdoor celebration. We used to be able to make it to the first Friday in October, but that was just nuts. Go two months without a town party?  No, thank you. I’d rather watch grown men dance in lederhosen.

So, last weekend Punta Gorda started it’s 11-month festival season off with the Bavarian Bash. There was food, drink, live music, and, of course, outdoor celebrating.

If you missed it, don’t worry. This weekend is Oktoberfest. There will be food, drink, live music, and outdoor celebrating.

We’re officially in full festival season.

oktober 2014