John Wright

Wright

Last week and the 16th Annual Wine & Jazz Festival proved even more to me what an incredible community we live in. The opening night at the Peace River Botanical and Sculpture Gardens was an amazing evening of music and wine. The team at the Gardens welcomed us with open arms and help produce what, in Mindi Abair’s own words, was a truly spectacular night. Sitting on the shores of the Peace River, listening to great music with the gardens glowing with Holiday Lights was memorable for so many, who have craved the arrival of this day, to be outside once again, having fun with friends. To the many who stayed behind to help clean up, we appreciate you. The team effort meant that the entire event was closed up in record time and everyone got home safely, thanks to traffic control by our local sheriff’s office.

Then our thoughts moved to Thursday and the outdoor patio event at Carmelo’s Ristorante. Mother nature was not helping us as storms were becoming more and more apparent. A frantic search for an alternative plan resulted in a sleepless night, but, by 10 a.m. Thursday morning, this community had rallied around to ensure the “show would go on.” With all players in unison and pledging to make the night memorable to all attendees, Carmelo agreed to move the event to the Event Center with his food still on the menu. The Event Center stopped all preparations for our later shows on Friday and Saturday and immediately created a space mirroring what would have happened at Carmelo’s, got all the work done in record time and doors opened at 6 p.m., as if magic had been created. The PG Chamber team, with back up support of Hazel Klossner, contacted each and every person on the invite list to tell them of the change of venue and to assure them that their experience would be the very best we could produce under the circumstances. So many helped in the search for tents, but every avenue hit a wall, as crews were sparse. Even other venues offered help. We could not be more grateful for the partners and community we have for pulling this night “out of the fire.” Thank you to all at Carmelo’s, to Jim Finch, Clare and Ashley at the Event Center and my amazing team at the Chamber for rallying and supporting us, to ensure the Mindi experience rolled on. Anyone in event planning would recognize the incredible lengths people went to make one excellent Chicken Soup! We are so very THANKFUL.

Arguably the happiest month of the year will soon be upon us. As always, the City of Punta Gorda knows how to celebrate. The official tree will be lit on Dec. 3 at dusk, helping us step into the holiday season. The wreaths around town are already twinkling and there is an air of excitement in the year. I believe, this year more than ever, we all have a need to feel joy. Let’s make this month the month to destress and celebrate what has always gotten us through tough times — community and friendships.

I encourage you all to enjoy the Holiday Light display at Fishermen’s Village that runs through Dec. 31. The PGI Canal Boat Parade is always the Saturday before Christmas Eve, so December 18 this year. Route details will be available at www.pgica.org I also encourage you to regularly visit our site www.puntagordachamber.com Our calendar of events will show the main attractions presented by our members, but you can also subscribe to our weekly newsletter that is sent out electronically every Friday morning to your inbox. Never be out of the loop again! Alternatively, simply call us on 941-639-3720 and ask to be added to the list. We are hoping to be bringing the Budweiser Clydesdales to town in December, but the date is yet to be finalized, so check the website for details as they become available. Their visit will be a majestic equestrian display of power to melt any heart! Hope you’ll come on down and enjoy a very special Holiday gift to our City!

Our walking tours of the Punta Gorda Murals, in conjunction with the Punta Gorda Historic Mural Society are set to return after a year hiatus. From Jan. 18 to March 29, 2022, every Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., take a guided leisurely stroll in the company of a Mural Society docent to learn about the history and creation of some of our greatest murals. The tour is limited to 12 people and will start and end at our offices located at 252 W Marion Ave., Punta Gorda. Price is $25 and can be booked by calling 941-639-3720 during office hours.

Our offices will be closed Thursday and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Our Sullivan Street Arts and Craft Fair will operate on Nov. 27and 28 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days. Make this an opportunity to visit all of our local businesses as well, to get the holiday shopping season kicked out in great shape. Nothing like supporting your local merchants!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

John R. Wright is president of the Punta Gorda Chamber of Commerce, jrwright@puntagorda-chamber.com.

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