COASTE | DEC 2014 - JAN 2015



growing like crazy Making Their Pointe Sunshine Sandy

A Room With A View Welcome Home Plus Win a 3-Night Captiva Island Vacation!

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Paradise plus the holidays equals magical. COASTE | EDITOR’S WELCOME For all of us fortunate enough to live in Southwest

sidewalk lined with charming luminary after luminary.

Florida — as well as the thousands of visitors blessed enough to visit us this time of year — the holidays on Sanibel and Captiva Islands are, well, truly magical.

The magic continues on Captiva, too, when Captiva Holiday Village takes over three weekends of holiday celebrations in December — from Arias on the Beach at ‘Tween Waters Inn, to a tricked-up golf cart parade that’s been featured on the Travel Channel. All across Southwest Florida, the holidays are a time to celebrate family, friends, laughter, love, our blessings and our good fortune to not have to shovel snow. So from all of us in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Estero, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Captiva, Pine Island, Gasparilla Island and Southwest Florida — happy holidays to you all. Enjoy your time here on our beautiful COASTE.

And if you haven’t had the opportunity yet to visit us in December, put it on your bucket list.

Yes, there’s something magical about navigating Sanibel’s “main street” — Periwinkle Way — with palm tree after palm tree wrapped in holiday lights. Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a long-time resident, it’s a whole new and warmly wonderful twist on the holidays. There’s something magical about “Luminary Night” on Sanibel and Captiva — an evening celebration of camaraderie, good times, outstanding foods and beverages, plus the Sanibel

John Sprecher, Editor




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Print COASTE Subscribe and enjoy 6 bi-monthly print magazine issues of COASTE annually (delivered right to your door) and you’re entered to win a $1,000 Captiva Island Vacation!

VOLUME 1 | Number 5

More than a lifestyle. It’s a soul style.

Founder | Executive Editor John Sprecher Creative Director Director of Photography Milissa Sprecher Senior Writer Wendy Payton Director of Advertising Sales Sharon Wise Administrative Director Felicity Rafalski

6 Annual Print Issues ONLY $15

Digital COASTE Subscribe and enjoy 6 bi-monthly digital magazine issues of COASTE annually (online, tablet, IOS and Android apps) and you’re entered to win a $1,000 Captiva Island Vacation!

COASTE is published six times a year by COASTE LLC. Print and digital magazines are offered by subscription, emailed or mailed to you bi-monthly. You can also download digital issues on the App Store and Google Play for your mobile devices. For weekly updates, visit

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Print & Digital Subscribe and enjoy 6 bi-monthly print and digital editions of COASTE annually (the best of both COASTE worlds) and you’re entered 2x to win our Captiva Vacation!

2330 Palm Ridge Road | PO Box 869 Sanibel, FL 33957

ON OUR COVER: The Bouis family at South Seas Resort, Captiva. Image: Milissa Sprecher.

Enjoy Both Best of Islands ONLY $15



Room With A View What’s your favorite kind of vacation destination? Each issue, COASTE opens the door and takes you on a tour of one of Southwest Florida’s premier places to rest, relax, reconnect and recharge your body and soul. “Barefoot Way” is a spectacular Gulf-front estate vacation rental home on Captiva Island. This jewel on the “Gold Coast” features an incredible six bedroom suites, seven full baths, three half- baths, two-story great room with incredible beach views, gourmet kitchen, game rooms, spacious pool and integrated spa, screened lanai, beachside gazebo and much more for parties up to 14 people. Vacation here, and you’re living more than the good life — you’re living the great life. Offered weekly by American Realty of Captiva.



By Wendy Payton Making Their Images: Milissa Sprecher

Two years ago, Iliana Lopez and her husband Franklin Gamero were enjoying retirement after more than 25 years in performing arts for ballet companies including the San Francisco Ballet, the Cleveland Ballet, the Deutsche Opera Berlin and Deutsche Opera am Rhein in


When Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero joined Gulfshore Ballet, they set out to make the school a true leader in its art. And they’ve earned a standing ovation for their success.

Dusseldorf — culminating their careers as principal dancers with the Miami City Ballet, where they remained for 18 successful years.

ballet companies. One of those happened to be Gulfshore Ballet, a small school at the time in Fort Myers. But then, something unexpected happened to them—the couplewas offered permanent positions as artistic directors at the school.

To keep themselves busy, they continued to occasionally tour, or teach, or consult other



“We fell in love with Gulfshore Ballet and the children,” Lopez says. “We were very happy to join, and we never looked back.” For Gulfshore Ballet, that love has paid dividends. In just two years, the school has grown from35 tomore than 90 students from

“BalletSit” class for seniors and thedisabled. Training combines Cuban, American and Russian technique. And while Gulfshore Ballet is certainly dancing to a successful note, it always works to recruit boys. Free classes for boys are offered in hope that they’ll give ballet a try, and discover the immense athleticism it takes. to heighten opportunity for students and provide exposure to the community. On December 13, at Bishop Verot High School’s Anderson Theatre, Gulfshore Ballet presents its annual “The Nutcracker,” with members of Miami City Ballet joining the troupe for its evening performance. In May, the school will perform “Sleeping Beauty.” “Your body is the expression of art,” Lopez The couplehas likewise added Gulfshore Ballet performances

all over Southwest Florida. Gamero nods to the Gulfshore Ballet board of directors, supportive parents and its group of volunteers

“It’s a beautiful gift to express art through your body.”

to the growth of the school, and a big part of that success can be attributed to the couple’s inclusionary approach. While pre-ballet, training and traditional classes are offered, adult intermediate and advanced classes are also available. Plus, unique and innovative programs include “Mommy and Me” for two-year-olds to a




says. “In ballet, you paint a picture of the happiness, joy or sadness in the music. It’s a beautiful gift to express art through your body.” Both Lopez and Gamero have been gifted to perform for important companies and festivals worldwide, and for dignitaries including President Gerald Ford, President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Shamir and Princess Caroline of Monaco. Yet whether performing for Presidents or Southwest Floridians, Lopez believes that “there is a sense of wonder that the audience feels, and for a time they forget their problems or their everyday routine.

There is something magical that happens when the curtain opens.”

If past performance is any indication, Lopez and Gamero will continue to make magic through this and other opportunities that face Gulfshore Ballet well into the future. After all, Lopez says with a laugh, “there’s nothing like applause. A paycheck is good, but the applause is better.”


Gulfshore Ballet 239-590-6191



Sunshine andy Put them all together, and you have one of Southwest Florida’s most successful women who does it all with a smile on her face. She’s She’s one part passion. One part determination. One part business smart. And one part thankful.

Seated on the sunlit second-floor deck of the new SS Hookers restaurant at the threshold of the Sanibel Island Causeway in Fort Myers’ Punta Rasa, one can’t help but be struck with a sense — make that senses — of the place. It’s another Southwest Florida postcard- perfect Sunday as patrons chat it up, toasting over a Bloody Mary or Mimosa. Below, anglers scurry back and forth to launch gleaming white boats, bellowing out guidance as hulls slip silkily into the water.

Island-bound motorists stack up single file like soldiers on parade at the toll booths that connect them to sugar-sand Sanibel beaches. Just beyond the expanse of the causeway, azure waters glisten off gingerly tossing waves — disrupted only by frolicking foamy wake that snakes behind passing powerboats.

It’s almost as if Stilwell Enterprises and Restaurants Group CEO and Founder





Print COASTE Subscribe and enjoy

6 bi-monthly print

magazine issues annually (delivered right to your door) and you’re entered to win a $1,000 Captiva Island Vacation!

6 Annual Print Issues ONLY $15

Digital COASTE Subscribe and enjoy

6 bi-monthly digital magazine issues annually (online, tablet, IOS and Android apps) and you’re entered to win a $1,000 Captiva Island Vacation!

6 Annual Digital Issues FREE

Print & Digital Subscribe and enjoy

6 bi-monthly digital and print editions of COASTE annually (the best of both COASTE worlds) and you’re entered TWICE to win a $1,000 Captiva Island Vacation!

16 Enjoy Both Best of Islands ONLY $15


Sandy Stilwell — developer of the SS Hookers concept — perfected the scene as meticulously as she has done her newest establishment.

Florida, Stilwell reflects on her success. “Each of my projects become my children, and the latest project always becomes my favorite one.”

Every detail of SS Hookers is a hand- picked, carefully considered element to

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the new SS Hookers (and new favorite child)

help spin the colorful yarn of Punta Rasa’s spirited past —a fading chronicle of legendary fishing expeditions, bustling cattle trade and gangbuster rum running. Owner now of nine hospitality companies throughout Southwest

features a Cajun and American-continental inspired menu with more than 100 items, many making succulent use of the nearby Gulf’s bounty, from Drunken Shrimp appetizer to Oyster Po’ Boys and the Day’s Catch. You’ll also find everything from Cajun favorites Chicken



Gumbo and cornmeal-breaded fried Okra, to choice grilled steaks. Wafts of Cajun spices and sizzling seafood permeate the place, which is a unique, charming, light and airy site to behold — a décor of water- inspired elements and art. Open this November, SS Hookers is just the latest in the Stilwell Enterprises and Restaurants Group portfolio, which makes this entrepreneur’s success almost look easy. However, her journey to this pinnacle and her commitment to continue it hasn’t always been an easy course.

called anyway. When a resort investment was flailing due to poor dining numbers, Stilwell took it as a personal challenge. A single mother of two sons, she put herself through Cornell University’s Food and Beverage Management program, learning the business side of restaurant operations. Armed with that knowledge, Stilwell turned the property around, and in doing so discovered both a talent and passion for the industry.

In 1999, Stilwell purchased the Captiva Island Inn and was landlord to the Terrace

Born in Chicago, Stilwell’s family resettled in Southwest Florida when she was a young girl — becoming Cape Coral’s sixteenth residential family. Her grandparents owned the Memory Lane Cottages, now The Lighthouse Island Resort (still operated by her brother), and by the time Stilwell was 12 years old she was washing dishes in her uncle’s nearby restaurant. Up at 5AM, she exhibited the work ethic that drives her to this day.

Tropical Grille, eventually buying out the tenants and creating Keylime Bistro. The restaurant has won a Wine Spectator award twice — just one example of the dramatic changes made to create unique appeal

at this quirky, i s l a nd s - s t y l i n g e s t a b l i s hme n t . From there she acquired adjacent Captiva Village food outlets RC Otters, Latte Da Coffee and Ice

“I didn’t set out to be a restaurateur,” she states firmly, but the restaurant business called anyway. - Sandy Stillwell

Cream Shop, Cantina Captiva and the Sunshine Seafood Cafe. “I needed the parking,” she laughs, “and I was tired of arguing over it.”

“I didn’t set out to be a restaurateur,” she states firmly, but the restaurant business


Then in 2004, Hurricane Charley hit Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Hard. Business came to a standstill as vacationers and winter residents stayed away from scarred remains — but there was no white flag of defeat from Stilwell. Instead, she took the lesson to heart and diversified — opening her first off-islands venture, the Sunshine Grille in South Fort Myers, with SS Hookers now her second. As if running nine businesses aren’t enough, Sandy Stilwell is a passionate advocate for her community. “It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to give back,” she states. And give back she does. Her generosity in Southwest Florida primarily focuses on improving the lives of young people through health and education. Stilwell has earned the prestigious Apex Award for Women in Business given by the Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce and has been named Humanitarian of the Year, as well as Men and Women of the Year. President of the board at PACE Center for Girls, Stilwell helped to spearhead the fundraising and transition to an improvedschool facility, andtodayraises scholarships for vocational training and higher education. She sits on boards for Florida Gulf Coast University Resort and Hospitality School, Hodges University and the Florida Rep Theatre. Her volunteer work as a trustee of the annual Southwest Florida Wine Fest benefits the capital campaign to build the new Golisano Children’s Hospital. At the Soup Kitchen, her work helps



feed 800 hungry families annually. She also sits on the advisory board for Gulfshore Life magazine.

in SS Hookers. He’s also a great angler, like his mother.

“Everything I do is God driven. I remember pulling up to SS Hookers, walking into the restaurant and just dropping to my knees, thanking God for giving me the ability to do this.”

“Everything I do is Goddriven,” Stilwell shares. “I remember pulling up to SS Hookers, walking

When asked her secret to success, Sandy Stilwell immediately names her family. “I have a great relationship with my parents. My mom is my built-in cheerleader. Although in her day,

into the restaurant and just dropping to my knees, thanking God for giving me the ability to do this. I am truly inspired by how good God is to the business and to my family.” Those she serves, those she employs and those whose lives she improves across Southwest Florida share that thanks.

girls didn’t go to college, my mom handled our family business behind the scenes and provided good financial advice. They demonstrated a very hard work ethic.” Her two sons, now grown, are successful in their own right. Her oldest son ran two restaurants for her for a couple of years, but his true passion lies in energy development. He lives in Maui with Stilwell’s three grandchildren. Her younger son stays closer to home, refinishing and restoring old boats — including the beauty hanging

} { Stilwell Enterprises + Restaurant Group


TAKE FIVE “What are we waiting for?”

By John Sprecher

Arlene Dillon has lived on Sanibel Island with her husband and two daughters for more than nine years — an entirely different world (and pace) from the 20-some years she spent as a groundbreaking broadcast journalist inWashington, D.C., assigned to political coverage for CBS News. During her career, Dillon managed CBS’s Washington News Bureau coverage the morning of 9/11, covered the White House for 12 years and was the first woman in 1995 to direct the State of the Union Presidential speech for the entire network pool (a feat she repeated in 1999). Subsequently, she served as Senior Producer for CBS News The Early Show before moving to Sanibel. Today, Dillon is the multimedia specialist for Gryphon Technologies, a Washington, D.C. based engineering services firm. She produces videos for the military and the government. On Sanibel, Arlene is active at The Sanibel School, co-directing the performing arts class musicals twice a year. Each issue, “Take Five” asks five questions of a community leader that have not been shared in advance. Here, Arlene Dillon talks about the life she’s led, and the live she now leads on Sanibel.



1 You’re among a generation of women who broke a lot of ground in what was then a male dominated broadcast industry. What was that like? A lot of doors were opening for women at that time, but you still had to “join the crowd” rather than push the envelope and once you were accepted by the guys, you had far more equal footing. If a woman confronted issues, yes, it was different then, and you tried to take the higher ground. 2 You were Senior Producer of The Early Show for three years — what kind of energy did that take? It took a tremendous amount of energy, it was a 24/7 job. You’d go in at 5 AM, get ready to put that show on for the day and when done, immediately start preparing for the next day. Inevitably you stayed through the Evening News, then go home and get phone calls all night. Anything that happened in the world, the phone would ring for you because there’s always a Washington, D.C. reaction. You were the first woman to direct a State of the Union Presidential address for use by the entire network pool. What was that like? That was a really exciting time. Prior to 1995, there were only cameras allowed in the balcony looking down to the House Chamber floor. Through some negotiation, we were able to introduce new, more mobile technology and put three cameras on the ground that moved seamlessly through the crowd, and the room was packed. I’m proud to say it’s a technique that’s still used today. Obviously you had a very successful career in Washington, D.C., as did your husband. What brought you to move to Sanibel? My husband Danny and I were both 40 when we married and in less than 30 months, both of our daughters were born. Then came 9/11 and it changed my life. I really wanted to spend more time with my beautiful daughters. I figured I was lucky enough to have them so late in life, I didn’t want to mess it up. So one evening, walking on the beach while vacationing on Sanibel, I said to my husband, what are we waiting for? How has news changed since you first started as a journalist? The news is totally different because of social media, anybody can consider themselves a newscaster. Today a lot of content is easily available to you as a producer, so you need to know how to weed through what’s relevant and what’s not, and that’s a very difficult job. 3 4 5

Farmer’s markets are sprouting up all across Southwest Florida, thanks in large part to two women who first planted the idea on Sanibel Island six years ago.

It’s a beautiful fall morning at Lakes Park in Fort Myers, where 70-some vendors have gathered to pitch their wares — Florida- grown fruits and vegetables, fresh fish, cheeses, spices, sauces, drinks, condiments, candles, dog treats and occasionally, you- name-its. And if today is an average day, some 4,000 to 5,000 people will visit the Lakes Park Farmer’s Market and leave about $40 lighter — yet richer in spirit and, ideally, healthier in body for the experience.

That's the goal of Jean Baer and Betsy Ventura, co-founders of Local Roots. With

24 30 24


fivemarkets inLeeCounty—Sanibel Island, Coconut Point, Bonita Springs, Fenway South and Lakes Park — Local Roots LLC is the largest organizer and promoter of farmer’s markets in Southwest Florida. And it all started with a six-week experiment on Sanibel six years ago.

in the restaurant industry) approached Baer — a realtor at the time, but a former director of recreation at South Seas Island Resort for 15 years and professional event planner — about the idea of a farmer’s market on a barrier island. With the help of Tahitian Gardens

“I grew up in the mountains of Virginia surrounded by farms and fresh vegetables, and it’s just important to me to me that I have that kind of food for my family. We didn’t have that on Sanibel.”

“Visiting farmer’s markets has been something of a passion for me for manyyears,”Ventura says. “I grew up in the mountains of Virginia surrounded by farms and fresh vegetables, and it’s

(a retail center on Sanibel), the first Sanibel Farmer’s Market launched in the center’s parking lot on a Sunday morning in 2008. Permitted for only six weeks, the market was such a success

just important to me that I have that kind of food for my family. We didn’t have that on Sanibel.”

that Sanibel city officials granted Local Roots a six-month permit the following year. But it wasn’t until 2010, when the city allowed the market to move to the Sanibel city hall and library grounds, that the vision

It was then that Ventura (with a background

25 31 25



these two women had for their passions (and their community) really took off.

proud of, the stories of the people we’re helping.”

“When we made the move, it was terrific,” Baer says. “To stage a successful event, you need a great location, available parking and yes, even accessible restrooms. That location has it all.” In fact, the great success of the Sanibel Farmer’s Market is what led other entities — both public and private — to seek out Jean Baer and Betsy Ventura for their venues. Today, at five locations over five days across Lee County for seven months of the year (except Fenway South, which operates only January to March), Local Roots provides sales opportunities for approximately 130 vendors — almost all local farmers, crafters and other self-employed entrepreneurs who otherwise may not have worked — who

Assiel Landa and Michael Valdes are two such vendors — brothers who started four years ago on Sanibel mixing up “the world’s

best guacamole” and who today (with hired help) work 17 markets t h r o u g h o u t Southwest Florida. “Jean and Betsy are amazing ladies,”

“There are a lot of vendors here making decent money whereas before, they may have been unemployed.”

Valdes says. “They’ve helped us from day one, supported us the whole way and grown our business tremendously.” Jeff Weigel (and his children) are another success story. Owner of the Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory,Weigel soldmini-doughnuts — made fresh every Sunday morning at the market — for four years, until turning the business over this season to his 17-year old daughter Madi and 15-year-old son Noah. “The

now run multiple Local Roots markets that total almost 275 vendors each week. “There are a lot of vendors here making decent money whereas before, they may have been u n e m p l o y e d , ” Baer states. “I had someone last week

idea behind it is to give the kids some real- world business experience,” he says, “as well as learn how to be salespeople and make some money. It’s been

great, they’re having fun and learning a lot. Jean and Betsy have created a great environment for them to learn.”

Betsy Ventura + Jean Baer

give me a hug and say: you know, you’ve changed my life. That’s what I’m most



And while farmer’s markets are a positive economic contributor to the local economy (estimates are that 90% of the income “turns over” in Lee County), both Baer and Ventura believe that their five markets also reflect the positive values of the communities they serve. “I’ve been to South America, Paris, Africa, and visited farmer’s markets wherever we’ve traveled,”Ventura says. “I think every great farmer’s market is a great reflection of its community.” “Betsy and I work hard — maybe 60 hours a week — to make our markets successful,” Baer adds. “We make sure we have quality vendors with quality products, and that

there are no more than three vendors selling the same product or service. At the same time, we want to give our customers a lot of options, so we never allow someone an ‘exclusive.’ That makes the markets appealing, the vendors profitable, and the customers satisfied and coming back. I live, breathe and sleep event planning, and this is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.” { } Local Roots Farmer’s Markets


Welcome Home

Each issue, COASTE opens the door and welcomes you to tour of one of Southwest Florida’s premier homes. After all, living here is more than a lifestyle. It’s a soul style.

This breathtaking Captiva Island home located on Roosevelt Channel with access to the Gulf of Mexico is stunning, outside and inside. You’ll enjoy almost 3,000 square feet of living space including four bedrooms, three baths and a magical, whimsical, enchanting décor that’s bathed in color and texture. The home includes tranquil fountains, romantic balconies, stone floors, cathedral ceilings and much more. Adjacent property parcel is also available separately. Price: $1,645,000. Listing agents: John and Denice Beggs, Royal Shell Real Estate.





What’s Happening on Your

December + January — Community Events

Dec 3-7

FESTIVAL OF TREES Dec 3-7 From angels to nutcrackers, butterflies to birds, and football helmets to fishing lures, you’re likely to see almost anything adorning the beautiful and creative trees at the Festival of Trees, and you can vote for your decorated favorites. Held annually at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in the Fort Myers River District, the Festival of Trees is a showcase of beautifully decorated trees, Children’s Holiday Workshop arts and crafts plus a visit from Santa. $2 admission for those age 12 and up. Visit

ART WALK Dec 5 Historic Fort Myers Downtown River District is the popular place to be! Art Walk features new art exhibits, live artist demos, street entertainment and a great atmosphere for shopping and dining. Art buyers and art enthusiasts take a self-guided, self-paced tour to meet local artists during exhibit openings at the many downtown galleries, art spaces and shops that sell fine art. Event happens from 6-10 PM.

Dec 5

Dec 5-6


The Luminary Festival is held 5:30-9 PM on Sanibel Island, Friday, December 5th and on Captiva, Saturday, December 6th. This holiday event brings together residents, visitors, businesses and organizations to promote goodwill and community spirit. As you “travel the trail,” look for the many fun places to stop and enjoy. Enjoy complimentary trolley service, Santa visits, photos with Santa, a live nativity scene, music and activities for the entire family. Free event. For more information, visit www.sanibel-



Dec 6

FORT MYERS BEACH CHRISTMAS BOAT PARADE Dec 6 Enjoy Christmas spirit at the 26th annual parade! The free parade holds remembrance of Pearl Harbor and honors World War II veteran Russ Winset, who will accompany the parade on the lead boat. The parade passes by many waterfront restaurants, where you can kick back

and enjoy the fun.

Dec 13

CAPE BIKE NIGHT Dec 13 Join in the fun at SE 47th Terrace in Cape Coral! Motorcycle enthusiasts and friends get together and listen to live bands, eat great food, and just hang out at this great, free event from 5-10 PM.

Dec 19

MUSIC WALK Dec 19 Over a dozen participating venues feature music by local and regional talent. Restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops showcase a wide range of music, from jazz and blues to rock, drums and more. Each month will brings great music and new energy to the historic streets of downtown Fort Myers. Free from 6-10 PM.

Dec 20

CAPE CORAL HOLIDAY BOAT A LONG Dec 20 A hundred boats decorated in festive holiday fashion put on a dazzling display at Four Freedoms Park from 4-8 PM, where landlubbers watch boats gather in Bimini Basin before they meander through South Cape Coral canals. Along with providing an ideal seat to watch the illuminated vessels, the park features holiday music, a visit from Santa, food and beverages for sale. FT MYERS BEACH BIRTHDAY PARTY + NEW YEAR’S EVE CELEBRATION Dec 31 Watch the ball drop at Times Square without shivering on always-lively Fort Myers Beach. The town’s 19th annual birthday party takes place from 1-3 PM, with free live music and treats. The New Year’s Eve celebration kicks off at 7 PM and culminates with fireworks from the pier and the ball drop. Dec 31 Dec 31 ‘TWEEN WATERS INN NEW YEARS EVE BASH Dec 31 A Captiva Island classic beginning at 9 PM and rockin’ all the way into 2015! Great food, great fun and great music by the one and only Modulators! For overnight reservations and tickets to the party, call 800.223.5865. Jan 2 ARTWALK Jan 2 Join the monthly Art Walk in downtown Fort Myers from 6-10 PM to take in quality art exhibits, live artist demos, discussions, presentations and other cultural events. More than 45 Art Walk galleries, shops and restaurants participate with special events and promotions.



December + January — Community Events Continued

Jan 2-4

RINGLING BROS. + BARNUM + BAILEY PRESENTS: BUILT TO AMAZE! Jan 2-4 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents “Built To Amaze!-Nuts & Boltz Edition” at Germain Arena in Estero. Experience all the things you know and love about the circus, and be amazed by things you’ve never seen before! Astonishing performers, awe-inspiring athletes and amazing animals from around the globe have been assembled for your amazement. See performance times at Tickets are $17- $56. Parking is $5.

Jan 10-11

CAPE CORAL FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS Jan 10-11 This free annual art event showcases the works of more than 300 juried artists and artisans featuring fine art, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, photography, mixed media and much more. The festival takes place on Cape Coral Parkway in downtown Cape Coral. Last year, more than 100,000 attended! Vendors stretch from Del Prado Blvd. to Vincennes Blvd.

Jan 11

DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS BIKE NIGHT Jan 11 This quarterly event features live music on three stages, vending by hand picked merchants, and bike show on First Street in Fort Myers. Downtown Fort Myers is a newly renovated, brick paved cityscape with world class bars, restaurants, art galleries, tattoo shops and more. Free admission.

Jan 16

MUSIC WALK Jan 16 Each month, Music Walk brings great rhythm and vibrant energy to the historic streets of downtown Fort Myers as over 2,000 music lovers descend upon the River District. Discover great live music from jazz and blues, to rock, drums and much more. Restaurants, bars, art galleries and shops showcase a wide range of the areas best music and musicians.

Jan 17-18

SOUTHWEST FLORIDA HOT ROD NATIONALS Jan 17-18 This rip-roarin’ annual hot rod and classic car event is the largest car show in

Southwest Florida. Expanded this year to two days, kids young and old will appreciate the exciting, action packed event with acres of show cars, entertainment and vendors, hosted at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers. $5 per person ages 12+. Parking is a $10 donation, with proceeds going to the Salvation Army.




December + January — In Concert

Dec 7

KINGA AUGUSTAN Dec 7 Polish-born, New York City-based concert violinist Kinga Augustyn has been described as “an adventurous performer valuable to New York’s scene” (NY Concert Review). She has performed as an award-winning soloist with orchestras in the United States, Europe and Asia. Show begins at 3:30 PM at BIG Arts Phillips Gallery on Sanibel Island. Dec 9 BIG ARTS COMMUNITY CHORUS Dec 9 Led by director Steve Cramer, the BIG Arts concert features iconic holiday carols, such as “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” “Little Drummer Boy” and “Silver Bells,” as well as a Sanibel version of “Twelve Days of Christmas,” plus selections from Gustov Holst and Handel’s “Messiah.” You’ll be treated to French, German and Russian folk songs, Hanukkah songs, and an audience sing-along. General admission is $10. Students and children are free. 7 PM start.

Dec 10

A SIMPLER CHRISTMAS: WYNONNA + THE BIG NOISE Dec 10 Wynonna Judd, along with her band, The Big Noise, performs some of her holiday favorites as well as her greatest hits. Using her rich, commanding voice, Wynonna gets her point across with unflinching honesty and wisdom gained over the course of her very public life. Sit back and be reminded of the simple blessings as you ring in the holiday season at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. 7:30 PM. Tickets range between $48-$70.

Dec 13+17


Dec 13 Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall + Dec 17 BIG Arts Sanibel As subtropical breezes gently sway palm trees filled with twinkling lights, come celebrate Christmas in paradise with this delightful holiday pops concert. Tour Christmas around the world in song, with an emphasis on sunny climate, and spin a dreidel or two in honor of the Festival of Lights. Catch it at B.B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers on December 13th ( or December 17th at BIG ARTS on Sanibel ( Visit websites for time and ticket information. THE PERFECT GIFT: CHRISTMAS WITH THE TENORS Dec 14 The Tenors super group has achieved international success, showcasing their undeniable charm and diverse vocal styles. The music of Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef, Remigio Pereira and Fraser Walters, is rich and soulful, with powerful anthems, classic covers as well as songs written and co-written by the Tenors. 7:30 PM performance at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Tickets range from $35-$67.

Dec 10



December + January - In Concert Continued

Dec 20

DECK THE HALLS Dec 20 The Gulf Coast Symphony celebrates the spirit of the season with this annual tradition filled with holiday favorites. Performances by Mark Sanders, Fort Myers Symphonic Mastersingers, and the Kellyn Irish Dancers, as well as a carol sing-along and — of course — a visit from Santa! Ticket prices range from $37-$67.

Dec 20

JOE BONOMASSA Dec 20 The jazz and blues master guitarist brings his fresh, defining sound to Germain Arena in Estero for a live performance beginning at 8 PM. Tickets are $81-$127 plus $10 for parking.

Jan 2

ISLAND JAZZ Jan 4 and 11 Island Jazz begins its 10th season of free Sunday afternoon concerts in Sanibel’s Boler Garden. Frequent guest players include many of the best jazz musicians in southwest Florida playing all styles of music from jazz standards and Dixieland to bop, pop, and more. Performances begin at 3 PM. THE MOTORTOWN ALL-STARS: THE MUSIC AND MAGIC OF MOTOWN Jan 4 Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall presents an all-star line-up of vocalists and musicians assembled from the ranks of the Capitols and the Miracles and former members of the Temptations. These vocalists come together to deliver the biggest Motown hits, adding yet another level of excitement to those instantly-recognizable grooves, “My Girl,” “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Ooh Baby, Baby,” “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and so many more! 7 PM performance. Ticket information available at Jan 4+11 all-star cast of European singers, dancers, and full orchestra. Returning to Fort Myers for a 18th season, this magnificent concert features uplifting melodies from famous operettas including “Die Fledermaus” and “The Merry Widow,” as well as polkas and Strauss waltzes. Don’t miss the “Blue Danube” waltz! Discover the beauty of Salute to Vienna for the first time or all over again! 8 PM performance at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. Tickets, $50-$72. Jan 4 NEW YEAR’S CONCERT 2015: SALUTE TO VIENNA Jan 2 Party like it’s 1899 in Vienna, the city of dreams! Celebrate the start of the New Year with an ALAN JACKSON WITH JOHN PARDI AND BRANDY CLARK Jan 8 Country legend and Country Hall of Fame artist in residence Alan Jackson brings his 25th Anniversary “Keepin’ It Country” tour to Southwest Florida, and introduces newcomers Jon Pardi and CMA New Artist of the Year nominee Brandy Clark to the area. The small-town Georgia native boasts 35 singles at the top of the country charts, while racking up more than three dozen Grammys, CMA awards, Billboard Music Awards and ACM trophies. See him one night only at Germain Arena. Jan 8


December + January — In Concert Continued

Jan 10

RIDERS IN THE SKY Jan 10 For 36 years, Riders In The Sky have been keepers of the flame passed on by the Sons of the Pioneers, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers, reviving and revitalizing Western music. And while remain- ing true to the integrity of the genre, they’ve branded the genre with their own legendary humor and way-out Western wit. Don’t miss this raucous evening, beginning at 8 PM at BIG ARTS Schein Per- formance Hall. Tickets are $42 - $47; students and children are $5. SIMPLY CLASSIC-SOUTHWEST FLORIDA SYMPHONY Jan 14 Take in the works of the 18th century musical capital of Europe, Vienna, performed by its brightest stars. Joseph Haydn, known as the father of the symphony, was also a prolific opera composer, and “Armida” is one of his most delightful overtures. Conducted by Nir Kabaretti at BIG ARTS Schein Performance Hall at 8 PM. Tickets are $36; student and child tickets are $5. CHRIS MACDONALD’S MEMORIES OF ELVIS ROCKIN’ BIRTHDAY BASH Jan 15 This celebration of the life and music of the King of rock-n-roll is a dynamic full production tribute that shares the incredible story of the shy humble country boy who became the “King of Rock- n-Roll” through highlights of several stages of his iconic career: the early years, the movies, the black leather ‘68 comeback, the white fringe ‘70 Vegas concerts. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. $29-$56. Jan 15 MASTERWORKS II: AMERICAN MASTERPIECES Jan 17 The Southwest Florida Symphony program features American composers, including Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story, Ives Symphony No. 2, and Van Cliburn International Piano Competition Award winner, Andrew Armstrong, performs Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue.” At the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. The pre-concert lecture begins at 7 PM. Concert begins at 8 PM. $18-$80. Jan 17 musicians from Polish, Japanese, and Dutch backgrounds. Members Bruce Uchimura on cello, Renata Artman Knific on violin and Susan Wiersma Uchimura on piano have been hailed as a brilliantly distinguished group endowed with remarkable gifts of communication, magnificent precision, and an impeccable blend of sound. See them at BIG Arts Phillips Gallery at 3:30 PM. General admission is $32. Students and children are free. THE RAT PACK Jan 18 The Gulf Coast Symphony present Nat Chandler, Sal Viviano and Eric Jordan Young. The trio perform a tribute to the music of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, and Dean Martin, featuring their biggest hits and original Rat Pack routines. You’ll think you’re swingin’ at the Sands! Concert tickets are $42-$75. Pre-Pops dinner at 5:30 PM; separate ticket required. Jan 18 Jan 18 THE MERLING TRIO Jan 18 Recognized as one of today’s premier ensembles, the Merling Trio brings together

Jan 14



Jan 22

AMPHION STRING QUARTET Jan 22 Hailed in major reviews by The New York Times and San Francisco Classical Voice , the Amphion String Quartet is winner of the 2011 Concert Artists Guild Victor Elmaleh

Competition. After serving as the Ernst Stiefel String Quartet-In-Residence at the Caramoor Center for the Arts for the 2012–13 Season, the ensemble joined the roster of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s CMS Two Program in fall 2013, featuring the ensemble’s Alice Tully Hall debut in March 2014. See them perform at BIG Arts Schein Performance Hall at 7:30 PM. Tickets are $42; Loge, $47. Children and students are free. EMALIE SAVOY Jan 25 Rising American soprano Emalie Savoy is becoming widely recognized for both the lyrical beauty of her instrument and the unique interpretive depth she brings to her performances. She has performed to great acclaim in both operatic and concert repertoire, making her Metropolitan Opera debut during the 2011–2012 Season. See her at BIG Arts Schein Performance Hall at 3:30 PM. General admission is $32. Students and children free. Jan 25 BIG Arts Schein Performance Hall shows an important work of film each Monday evening beginning at 7 PM. The film is followed by discussion and complimentary reception. December works include Bethlehem ; On My Way ; Tim Jenison’s documentary, Tim’s Vermeer; Nepalese documentary Manakamana , and the punk band musical, We are the Best . January shows include the Iranian film, The Past on the 5th ; India’s The Lunch Box , showing on the 12th; Gloria from Chile on the 19th, and on the 26th, the French comedy, Bicycling with Molière . Ticket is $8 per person, or a book of 10 tickets is $80. Dec 1-4 DIVAS Dec 1-4 Divas fight it out for vocal and stage dominance in this show-stopping performance of the biggest and most successful female stars. Stunning voices and lots of laughter ensue as these talented ladies belt out everything from the most popular show tunes and pop songs to opera. Unforgettable performances, on the Strauss Theater stage at BIG Arts, Sanibel. A CHRISTMAS CAROL Dec 1-27 Fabulous sets and rich costumes bring to life the true spirit of Christmas as discovered by grumpy ol’ Ebenezer Scrooge and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre performances, Tuesday-Saturday evenings with select matinee dates. Adult tickets, $37- $60; $22 for children ages 12 and under. Dec 1-27 MURDER AT THE HOWARD JOHNSON’S Dec 2-21 All’s fair in love…even murder! At Florida Repertory Theatre, laughs come thick and fast in this delightfully funny suspense comedy about an ill-fated love triangle and three botched murder plots. Chaos ensues when a woman, her lover and her husband scheme to murder one another in a Howard Johnson Motor Inn. Tickets are $45-$49. Previews, $25-$29. Dec 2-21 Mon in Dec + Jan December + January - On Stage MONDAY NIGHT FILM SERIES Dec 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 + Jan 5, 12, 19, 26


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December + January - On Stage Continued SWELL PARTY DEC 4-12 Theatre Conspiracy in Fort Myers presents the story of Smitty, the 20 year-old orphaned heir to the family fortune, who returns to his Southern home with a controversial new wife, a trunk load of gin and his new wife’s acting coach, who is quite possibly insane. A party is thrown, someone turns up dead, and the plot thickens. For Southerners, the truth isn’t nearly as important as a good story. Showtimes vary. $11-$22. Dec 4- 12 THE FANTASTICKS Dec 5-14 This timeless musical fable of love and discovery tells the tale of teens Luisa and Matt — next door neighbors who fall in love. When they discover that their fathers have manipulated the courtship, rebellion and temptation kicks in. See it at Cape Coral’s Cultural Park Theatre for $19, Seniors for $17, Students for $13 and children 12 and under for $10. Dec 5- 14

Dec 11

LEWIS BLACK, THE RANT IS DUE Dec 11 Grammy Award-winning stand-up comedian Lewis Black is one of the most prolific and popular performers working today. The highly acclaimed comedian, actor, and author takes the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall stage at 8 PM for his performance. Tickets are $38 to $70.

Dec 12- 20

SCROOGE TV: A MODERN CHRISTMAS CAROL Dec 12-20 Fun for the whole family, this modern version of the beloved classic by Charles Dickens was created for the Laboratory Theater in Fort Myers by the 2013 winner of the 24-hour Playwriting Project. Watch as the story you and your family already know is delightfully woven into the setting of a popular TV show! Tickets are $20 for adults, $18.50 for seniors 65+ or military ID. Students are $12. THE CHRISTMAS SPECTACULAR Dec 17-21 Cultural Park Theatre of Cape Coral takes your holiday classic and pop favorites and adds a special visit from Santa Claus. Presented in a picture perfect setting and you’ll leave with the wonderful feeling that the Christmas season brings. Tickets are $19. Seniors are $17, Students are $13 and children 12 and under are admitted for $10. Dec 17- 21

Dec 17- 28

THE SANTALAND DIARIES Dec 17-28 A Florida Rep Tradition! Crumpet the Elf is back for a sixth smash season of yuletide

mischief! This thorny comedy from acclaimed satirist, David Sedaris, proves that naughty is more fun! The Santaland Diaries exposes the underside of Santa’s workshop when David, a down and out-of-work cynical writer, desperately takes a job as Macy’s elf during the holiday crunch. For mature elves only. Tickets, $25.



Dec 19- 31

HOLIDAY SPECTACULAR 2014 Dec 19-31 Share this one-of-a-kind celebration with family, friends and loved ones. The radiant Strauss Theater at BIG Arts Sanibel is decked out for the season, and onstage talent shines in a breath- taking holiday show that transforms the scene into a glistening winter wonderland! Shows begin at 7 PM with 2 PM and 4 PM matinee on select dates. An opening night reception takes place at 6:30 PM on Friday, the 19th. Tickets are $35. Students and children, $5. Visit for more information.

MOSCOW BALLET’S RUSSIAN NUTCRACKER Dec 29 Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall presents Moscow Ballet’s spectacular Great Russian Nutcracker, the must-see event this holiday season! Celebrate the beloved Christmas tradition with the whole family as 40 world-class Russian artists bring to life Tchaikovsky’s master score with the magic of larger than-life-puppets, growing Christmas tree and life- sized Matrushka Dolls! 3 PM and 7 PM performances; $30- $186.

Dec 29

Dec 30- Feb 14

CRAZY FOR YOU Dec 30-Feb 14 Broadway Palm Theatre presents the story of Bobby Child, a well-to-do 1930s playboy with a dream to dance. A high-energy comedy of mistaken identities, plot twists, fab costumes, and dancing. Shows are Tuesday - Saturday evenings, with select matinee dates. Adult tickets, $37-$60; $22 for children ages 12 + under. New Year’s Eve tickets are $100 for dinner and show. THE BOOK OF MORMON Jan 6-11 Composed by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez, The Book of Mormon is a smash-hit, old-style musical with modern sensibility. Two young missionaries sent to Uganda to convert citizens to the Mormon religion. Upon arriving in Africa, the two elders learn that in a society plagued by AIDS, poverty and violence, a successful mission may not be as easy as they expected. At Barbara B. Mann Arts Hall. Tickets $58-$158 at Jan 6- 11 FREUD’S LAST SESSION Jan 6-17 Freud’s Last Session imagines what happens when legendary psychoanalyst Dr. Sigmund Freud invites the rising young scholar and author C.S. Lewis to his home in London. On the day England enters World War II, Freud and Lewis clash about love, sex, the existence of God and the meaning of life, just weeks before Freud takes his own life. See it at BIG Arts Strauss Theater on Sanibel Island. Shows begin at 7:30 PM Tuesdays-Saturdays and 4 PM Sunday, January 11th. Opening reception begins at 6:30 PM on the 6th. ONE SLIGHT HITCH Jan 6-28 Florida Repertory Theatre presents the Florida premiere of The Daily Show comedian Lewis Black’s Rom-Com. Urbane, witty, and deliriously funny, it’s the day of the wedding, and everything is perfect…until the doorbell rings. Settle in for a riotous and strangely romantic ride through the deconstruction of one family’s equilibrium. Tickets are $45-$49, previews $25-29. Jan 6- 28 Jan 6- 17


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