This time of year always sneaks up on me for some reason. As the Naples season winds down in May and the folks who summer elsewhere are usually gone by June, both Bob and I breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we will have some quiet time for a few months.
It’s not that we don’t enjoy the hectic pace that prime time in Naples brings with it. But slowing down to a trot is nice after being on fast-forward for so many months. Then, all of a sudden it’s August and the signs of changes in the works have begun.
I guess it first hit me the night of July 24 when The Ritz-Carlton, Naples along the beach closed for renovations and was eerily dark that night … as though the entire building had vanished. First thing the next morning—I am sure it was before 7 a.m.—an army of workers in bright green work clothes and white hard hats had gathered in front of the Ritz’s grand entrance to receive their work assignments. Soon after, the workers scattered to points inside and outside the hotel. The workers have been there every day since—yes, Saturday and Sunday, too—working furiously from early in the morning until after 7 each evening to make certain the resort reopens on schedule October 1.
The Ritz, undergoing a facelift, reopens October 1.
Another occurrence that catches me by surprise each year is the start of school around Southwest Florida. When I was growing up in Minneapolis, summer vacation always seemed so wonderfully long because we got out the first week in June and did not have to return until the Tuesday after Labor Day in September. Even when Bob and I lived in Boston, all the downtown streets would be packed with college kids moving into their dorms around September 1. So, here it is only the first weekend in August and folks around town are talking about school starting this coming week. After living in Naples for more than 10 years, I still cannot wrap my mind around school starting this early.
Then, of course, there is the flurry of building as new businesses try to open their doors before season starts. Some I have noticed in full construction mode (and they could not be more diverse) include Chuck E. Cheese in the Granada Shops; The Alamo, a new gun range/shooting facility being built right next to Agave Southwestern Grill on Vanderbilt Beach Road; and the building that formerly housed the World of Golf (I really liked that golf shop) has been transformed into yet another mattress store called Mattress #1.
Recently opened are Taps, a new drinking and eating establishment in Mercato, and its neighbor, Second Cup, a coffee shop with roots in Canada. Cloyde’s Steak & Lobster House in the Village on Venetian Bay has another new owner and a new name, T-Michael’s Steak & Lobster. Not to be left out, East Naples will welcome a brand new Fresh Market in the Shops at Eagle Creek.
Bob Harden fuels up for a dancing session to prepare for Literacy Volunteers of Collier County’s Dancing With the Stars fundraiser in November.
Preparations for all the upcoming fundraising events are well under way. One noteworthy undertaking, which is hitting very close to home, is that my husband, Bob Harden, is taking dance lessons … and not with me. He has volunteered to participate in the Literacy Volunteers of Collier County “Dancing with the Stars” fundraiser, now in its seventh year. Bob has had two dance lessons so far with the fabulously talented Lori Oliver of Naples Performing Arts and, if I do say so myself, he is catching on very quickly. Bob is taking on this challenge very seriously, and is even practicing his steps at home. (I am keeping the Advil very close at hand.) The Grand Finale for 2013 will take place on November 8 at The Naples Beach Hotel & Golf Club and promises to again be a wonderful event. For more information or tickets to “Dancing with the Stars,” log on to www.collierliteracy.org or call 239-262-4448, ext. 2013. Last year’s first place winner, Chef Brian Roland of Crave Culinaire, will be making a return performance, along with other past participants. What a fun night it will be—and all to benefit such a terrific organization.
The wheels have been set in motion and the season of change has begun. We will be back into high gear before you know it.