Christmas Tree Fest, Mound House Market

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    FMB Womens Club and Mound House Host Events

    Continue your Holiday festivities at two of the oldest and most historic structures on Fort Myers Beach, with the Christmas Tree Festival at the FMB Woman’s Club and the Christmas Market at the Mound House! Rather than competing, the two organizations are combining forces to promote their 2nd-year events, with the Woman’s Club presenting the Christmas Tree Festival on Friday and Saturday, December 13 & 14, and the Mound House holding its Christmas Market on Saturday, December 14.

    Christmas Tree Festival

    The Fort Myers Beach Woman’s Club is now 68 years old, including the last 56 years at its current location at 175 Sterling Avenue. The historic Woman’s Clubhouse was the island’s first schoolhouse, a teenage dance club and community meeting place; in the future, the FMB Woman’s Club building will undergo a significant renovation to provide residents and guests a beautiful facility to benefit everyone.

    One of the colorfully decorated Christmas trees in the 2018 Christmas Tree Fest Silent Auction. Photo by M. Layfield.

    “We will have roughly 25 decorated Christmas trees from various Fort Myers Beach non-profits at the Christmas Tree Fest & Auction,” said Woman’s Club Events Chairperson Mari Torgerson. “The individual groups wholly design, develop, and decorate their own tree however they want, so each is completely unique. Guests then bid on them in a Silent Auction, with those funds going back to each individual organization, though the FMB Woman’s Club does charge a small registration fee to cover expenses. Last year, we capped the total at 20 trees, but this year the Board felt we could expand. We have a couple of slots left but they are going fast so submit your request to participate as soon as possible to events@fmb-wc.org. We still need Bake Sale items as well, so if you can contribute, please email us.”

    Among the FMB Non-Profits already a part of the 2019 Christmas Tree Festival & Auction are the Beach Kids Foundation, Estero Island Garden Club, Beach School Parent-Teacher Organization, FMB Chamber of Commerce, FMB Community Foundation, Bay Oaks Recreational Center, Friends of the Mound House, Friends of Lovers Key State Park, Friends of the FMB Public Library, Turtle Time, Lee County Drill Team, FMB Art Association and of course the FMB Woman’s Club.

    Christmas Tree Festival & Auction hours on Friday, December 13, are 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., featuring the Cypress Lake High School Orchestra at 5:30; Dance Warehouse at 6:30; and the Lee County Junior Drill Team at 7:30 p.m. Santa Claus will be there as will food trucks from Carballos and Love Boat Ice Cream, along with a cash bar.

    The Christmas Tree Fest & Silent Auction continues on Saturday, December 14, from 3:30 to 8 p.m., right after the Mound House Christmas Market. There will be live music from Richard Lee from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.; with the Chili Tasting Competition from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday events include the Christmas Treat Bake Sale, in addition to the cash bar, with the Christmas Tree Auction winners announced at 7 p.m. Admission on Friday and first portion of Saturday is a new unwrapped toy that the FMB Woman’s Club will donate to the Beach Kids Foundation, while the Chili Tasting Competition is $5-per-person. For more information, see FMB-WC.org.

    “There were a couple of ‘best parts’ from the initial ‘Christmas Tree Fest & Auction,’ Mari felt. “The fact that so many island non-profit groups got together for one fundraising benefit is pretty incredible, so the FMB Woman’s Club is proud of that, as this was something we previously did not see on Fort Myers Beach. The other thing is that, even though it was just the first collaborative effort from the island non-profits, we still raised over $6,000 and for a first-time event, that is an excellent total! Now that people know what to expect, in that the Christmas Tree Fest is such a fun family event, that should generate even more interest this year, so hopefully we will exceed that figure in 2019.”

    Christmas Market

    The Mound House, Estero Island’s oldest standing structure owned by the Town of Fort Myers Beach, operated as a museum complex, and recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, hosts its 2nd annual Christmas Market on Saturday, December 14, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., ending just a half-hour prior to the start of Saturday’s Christmas Tree Fest & Auction. The Mound House is at 451 Connecticut Street, with overflow parking and shuttle service from 216 Connecticut Street and the nearby Beach Baptist Church. In addition to its wide variety of vendors, including for food and drink, the Mound House will offer free admission from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Modeling some colorful aprons at the 2018 Mound House Christmas Market are Betty Simpson, Ceel Spuhler and Dan Hughes. Photo submitted.

    “The Friends of The Mound House judged last year’s first-time Christmas Market a huge success,” said Mound House Friends Vice President Gayle Crabtree-Pergoli. “Many of the ‘Christmas Market’ customers and even a few of the vendors had never been to the Mound House, and that is the primary reason to host events like this, so that alone made it a great day, as getting more people and families to experience the Mound House is a major emphasis of the Friends group, along with making money to further benefit the facility and grounds. Part of the funds allows school groups to visit the Mound House, along with hosting summer camps, and it is heartwarming to see the smiles on those kids’ faces when they tour the shell mound exhibit and all of our sites.”

    Gayle explained, “The Friends of The Mound House will sell poinsettias and baked goods, including Mound House-logoed cupcakes. We will have specialty items from the West African nation of Mali that the Mound House Friends president Ellen Vaughan and her family donate for sale, as her daughter and son-in-law are teachers there. A cooperative of disabled persons in Mali makes the items so your purchase not only benefits the Mound House but them as well, and what could be better than assisting two worthwhile organizations over the holidays at once! Among the Mali items will be jewelry, aprons and backpacks that are new this year. The apron fabric is unlike anything you will find in the United States.”

    Mayor Anita Cereceda returns again this year, Gayle reported, “to not only to sell terrific merchandise from her island-owned shops, but will offer works from various local artists at her booth. We will provide complementary chair massages with two massage artists. Gift items include Walker’s Farm honey; homemade reduced-sugar jams and jellies; children’s clothing along with hairbows donated by Mound House descendant Bill Grace and his wife Susan; wonderful glassware of all varieties in a beachy theme; hand painted furniture and notecards; Herb Appeal that will sell organic soaps, locations, and sprays; and handmade Cool Island Signs with beach motifs.”

    Of special note, Gayle pointed out, “are the Caloosa Carvers, whose handmade ‘comfort birds’ and related items all sold out quickly last year, so you may want to shop them first, and they will conduct demonstrations. The Chapel by the Sea Choir offers musical entertainment at Noon, and of course we will have photographs with St. Nick all day, so there will truly be something for everyone, with gifts for all ages. Remember that the Mound House Museum Store is full of educational and fun items, especially for kids and people interested in science, engineering, history and physics.”

    The Beach Baptist Coffee Truck will sell “their fabulously scrumptious ‘Christian Craft Coffee’ that is totally tempting,” Gayle said in jest! “If you want an adult beverage, Momentum Brewery will offer samples for sale, and the Doghouse Food Truck will sell food.” If you are a vendor who would still like to participate, contact Gayle at crnagayle@msn.com; to volunteer, email katybeth@fmbgov.com.

    The Mound House is the community’s cultural and environmental learning center that offers roughly 50 programs each month. Admission is $10 for ages 13 & up, $8 for students with IDs, $5 ages 6 to 12, and 5 & under free, with Town residents receiving a 50% discount. It is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., though it closes Christmas and New Year’s Day. Beginning Thursday, January 2 through April 30, hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For information, call 239-765-0865 or see www.moundhouse.org.

    “We hope all island residents and visitors shop the Christmas Market,” concluded Gayle. “Your support will help us continue the popular programs and other events that allow people from across the island to across the county to experience the magic of the Mound House!”

    “We made the conscious decision last year to work in a collaborative effort with the Mound House and its Christmas Market,” emphasized Mari. “Cross-promoting these two worthwhile causes is the best way to ensure the success of both.” “Ellen Vaughan and I are on the FMB Woman’s Club Board,” added Gayle, “so we of course work closely with Mari to ensure both events cross-support each other in the best possible way so everybody on our island wins!”