One would think that after nearly 10 years living here in paradise, Bob and I would have seen everything there is to see and done everything there is to do. From the beaches, to the restaurants, to the Naples Winter Wine Festival, to shopping in nearly every store, to many trips aboard the Naples Princess, to visiting the gorgeous Naples Botanical Garden—and, of course, attending all the wonderful arts events and venues, including the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Gulfshore Playhouse, the Patty & Jay Baker Naples Museum of Art … I could go on and on. But during the weekend of March 23, we found ourselves in two previously untried and fabulous destinations—one brand new, the other, a venue that has been around for a good long time.
For the last decade or so, there has been a project in the works that I had not paid much attention to—the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples (C’MON). I was a naysayer whenever anyone brought up the museum. (“Oh, really? This is a vacation community; why do we need to raise millions of dollars for a children’s museum?”)
On March 23, I discovered the answer. Bob (pictured) was invited to be the master of ceremonies for the museum’s Dream Gala at the new C’MON facility.
He needed to visit the museum ahead of the gala so he could get the “lay of the land” before the event. His comment when he returned home was, “You will not believe this place. Little kids were everywhere and having the time of their lives.”
On the night of the gala, we arrived a bit early, and I could not believe my eyes as we approached C’MON via Livingston Road.
(photos courtesy of Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples; photos by Girard Photography)
This magical building appears to float apart from anything else. The only comparison I can make is that it almost seems like a Disney attraction. We were admitted before all of the guests arrived and saw firsthand all the interactive learning sites, the play sites … the dream sites … all geared so that every child who enters will come away knowing a bit more, tired from playing, and full of dreams for their future. The evening resembled the Academy Awards in a way; attendees were dressed in their most fabulous finery and entered by way of a blue carpet instead of red. The gala honored those who had given their time, talent, and especially their treasure to make C’MON a reality. On this March evening they saw their wonderful dream come true.
The evening of March 24 held an entirely different itinerary. Bob is familiar with the Naples Zoo, as he has had the zoo’s director, David Tetzlaff, on his radio show several times. I, on the other hand, was not. On March 24 I had my chance as we were invited to attend the Rotary Club of Naples’ annual event, Grapes & Apes, at the Naples Zoo.
Well, I was beyond surprised. Here, right in the middle of beautiful Naples, is this most spectacular—and large—zoo. Lions, tigers, zebras, monkeys, antelope and animals I had never seen before—even a beautiful lake with a boat that takes visitors to see other animals. Who knew? The event was sold out, with 1,200 people attending. There was wine everywhere, food catered by Wynn’s Market everywhere. Grapes & Apes was a truly successful event. We did not have time to see everything, but Bob and I promised each other that we would return to the Naples Zoo again, sooner rather than later. And next year’s Grapes & Apes will be on our calendar once again.