April 1st is a happy day on the Island. Easter is behind us. Spring Break is, for the most part, over. Listen closely and you’ll hear servers and desk clerks and bartenders sighing ever so slightly in relief all over the Island starting today.
We love season. Truly we do. For many of our businesses it provides the financial base that gets us through our slower summer months. Even with a cold and wet January and February, we had plenty of visitors. Our road construction did not stop them. Our brown water did not stop them.
We should not underestimate the draw of our Island – the sun, the sand, the laid-back Island vibe that we’re known for.
Surely road construction and the brown water releases from Lake O had an effect, but with a little cooperation, the construction went on and traffic seemed to most of us no worse than it usually is during season.
The brown water caused some serious issues and its effect on our marine environment can’t be overstated. It’s a menace and solutions need to be implemented. On the plus side, if such a thing can be said, many visitors now know about the issue and will hopefully encourage their Washington representatives to vote to do something about it. Prior to this year, the dumping of excess water on our east and west coast estuaries was known primarily only to those who live in Southwest Florida and in the Indian River Lagoon area.
As we all ease into April with the slightest easing of traffic and busyness, it’s a good time to appreciate those who have carried the load with us all this season. We surely have weeks of heavy traffic ahead and crowded restaurants, but April 1st is a turning point and a good time to take a deep breath and appreciate this busy season that is just now beginning to ease.
We know that not everyone sees and appreciates the hard-working people behind the scenes that make our visitors’ experience better, safer, cleaner and more fun. People like these:
-The Lee County Sheriff’s Office deputies – always available to help or solve a problem.
-Fort Myers Beach Fire Control District staff for coping with traffic and bringing great service and competence to some folks having the worst day of their lives. And to the Lee County EMS staff who back them up, when our people are busy.
-Town Public Works and Beach & Street staff – keeping our beaches and streets clear, answering countless questions and representing our Town to thousands of visitors each and every day.
-LCSO V.O.I.C.E. volunteers for their efforts directing traffic at Time Square, checking on snowbird’s homes and, of course, helping along the Shrimp Parade route.
-Road construction crews and flaggers – helping to keep traffic flowing and pedestrians safe. The extra effort during March with more flaggers and clear walking areas really made a big difference. And the dancing flaggers were appreciated too.
-FWC staff for helping to keep back bay boating and boaters safe.
-Coast Guard for their readiness to help when called upon and for their offshore boater rescues.
-The Sundown Patrol – that last look at the back bays of Lee County at sunset looking for boaters in trouble before night falls.
-The beach walkers who always carry a bag with them to pick up trash left on the beach or along the road.
-The volunteers who lead guided walks at our parks, sharing their knowledge of our unique corner of the world with residents and visitors.
-The locals who answer visitor questions with a smile.
-The servers, bartenders, desk clerks, housekeeping staff, office workers, store clerks and every single person who went to work each day, sat in traffic, kept their cool and did everything they could to make our visitors feel welcome here.
When people go on vacation, which is what our visitors are here for primarily, they don’t usually think about all the people behind the scenes that make a place work.
We Islanders do and are happy to salute all the behind the scenes efforts by countless Islanders. It really does take the efforts of all of us to cope with the influx of visitors that swells our Island population from 6,000 to nearly 50,000 some days.
Islanders really do love to share our beautiful home with visitors and it shows.