Monday, October 31, 2016

Governor Gilchrist's Halloween Gift

Albert Gilchrist, early Punta Gordan and only Punta Gordan to become Governor of Florida, didn't have children of his own.  He loved kids though.  When he walked down Marion Avenue, he frequently gave kids pennies he kept in his pocket so they could buy ice cream or candy from the local store near his apartment above his realty business.

But he forecast a day, he wouldn't be able to give the kids this present.  In his will, in addition to generous bequeaths to numerous local charities, for example,  funds benefitting he local high school, funds for poor children, he specified something very special to be used on Halloween.

He said in his will:

"It has been my custom, when in Punta Gorda on Hallowe'en night, to set up to all the boys and girls at one of the drug stores generally ice cream-cones; I want the Lodge (Masons) to continue this custom, using a part of the interest (principal he left the Lodge). It costs little and affords much happiness."

So the Masons continue this tradition.  And tonight, Halloween, and every Halloween, they continue the gift in Gilchrist Park, the park Punta Gorda named after its famous citizen and generally good guy.

Friday, October 28, 2016

From Dilapidated Fishing Dock to Major Southwest Florida Tourist Attraction

Forty years ago the dilapidated dock at the edge of the historic area of Punta Gorda was an eyesore for the City.  On top of that, Florida visitors who had stopped by the town and residents seeking places to shop either soon found or already knew that they had to keep going, either to Fort Myers to Sarasota.  That ended, with a vision of three gentlemen who saw the opportunity to turn the old dock into a shopping/tourist attraction with a New England fishing village theme.  Don Donelsen, a local developer, radio personality Earl Nightingale and publisher Bob Anderson imagined a complex with a fine dining restaurant, shops, apartments, a marina, a total entertainment complex for families.  Fishermen's Village was born.  Forty years later, as the Village expands and improves, the 2nd largest tourist attraction in Southwest Florida has come a long way.