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contents »



29 47


25 helping single moms Kristen Peterson started A Mom’s Helping Hand after her own experiences as a single mom.

29 new park

In Every Issue 15 ask the expert

Baker Park brings additional options for outdoor fun in Collier County.

How to make your home the teen hangout

41 safety corner

17 in the kitchen

32 holiday events

These tips mitigate the risks that come with new toys in the home

Start a holiday tradition that’s also a life skill: cooking with the kids

Where to see lights, snow and even ice skating among finely decorated Christmas trees.

47 travel

19 dining out

On the cover

Elijah Prettyman, 4, is the son of Dara and Matt Prettyman. Dara owns Dara Prettyman Photography. S W F L PA R E N

23 teens

How to protect your children from the effects of red tide

Celebrate with a Hawaii Christmas

Jean Le Boeuf lists out cheap eats in Naples

57 voices

20 kid stuff

A Southwest Florida student explains why she protests for the climate

Historic homes decorated for the holidays entertain the whole family



Other Departments 7 8 9 10 12

editor’s note our contributors online 5 things fyi

42 50 51 58

family album around town calendar last look



editor's note »

parent &child



Part of the USA TODAY Network

Dedicated to serving the families of Lee and Collier counties 2442 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33901 Regional VP, Sales William R. Barker General Manager Kathryn Robinson Kinsey Editor Pamela Smith Hayford (239) 335-0448 Art Director Lindi Daywalt-Feazel

Editorial Contributors Jean Le Boeuf, Noel Konken, Anne Reed, Wendy Stephan, Andrea Stetson, Jennifer Thomas, Sandra Villamizar Photographer Amanda Inscore Vice President/Advertising Sales Nancy M. Solliday Specialty Publications Team Coordinator Dennis Wright Advertising Account Executives Gloria Estrada-Page (239) 478-3607 Nicole Holey (239) 281-6455 Distribution (239) 335-0211 Southwest Florida Parent & Child is a FREE publication distributed at more than 500 locations throughout Southwest Florida by The News-Press Media Group. All rights reserved. We make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information published but cannot be held responsible for any consequences arising from omissions or errors. Any opinions expressed by writers and advertisers are not necessarily opinions of the magazine or publisher.

Happy holidays


know I said autumn is my favorite time of year, but I’m amending that. The entire stretch from Halloween to New Year’s Day is my favorite. It used to be spring, when I lived up north; the drab winter gives way to green plants and baby wildlife and my birthday. In Florida, though, in fall, the oppressive heat gives way to cooler temperatures, which means new life in its own way. There are more fun events. Family and friends get together for Halloween and Thanksgiving. Then lights go up everywhere and holiday cheer can be found around nearly every corner. While Luna the holidays are stressful — there’s so much to and do — it’s also a time of hope and love, a time Cosmo when the warmth comes from within rather than without. We hope you’ll find this month’s issue a gift as well. We’ve compiled some 30 holiday events that have become tradition for many families in Southwest Florida (page 32). We also bring you the story of Kristen Peterson, a single mom who started a nonprofit that now helps dozens of single parents (page 25). There’s fun, too, like Eve Time, our holiday spin on the Me Time and 5 Things product pages (page 10). There are tips for cooking with your kids (page 17) and how to make your home a place where your teen and their friends actually want to hang out (page 23). Most of all this holiday season, we hope you find love in each other and spend time appreciating each other. May your holidays be merry and bright. PHOTO BY BRIAN TIETZ

Volume 20, Issue 12

CORRECTION: In the November Teens column “Bump, Race, Ride,” the speed of the go-karts at Zoomers should have read as follows: The regular go-karts go 15-17 miles per hour. The Rookie go-karts go 7 mph. The Raptor go-karts go 18-20 mph.

Pamela Smith Hayford, Editor

Member of

Contact us: We enjoy hearing from you. Send your photos, letters or comments to: Or visit us online:


MIROMAR OUTLETS DECEMBER LIVE ENTERTAINMENT Saturdays from 1 to 7 p.m. & Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Throughout the mall. CAR CRUISE-IN Sunday, December 1 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. near PLAYLAND See your favorite makes and models of classic, exotic and custom cars. FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT SERIES Friday, December 6 6 to 9 p.m. in the Restaurant Piazza The Marty Stokes Band performs melodic jazz and sultry blues. CHRISTMAS COOKIE DECORATING Saturday, December 7 Noon to 2 p.m. near PLAYLAND Kids deck out a holiday treat. ENDLESS TRAILS HOLIDAY MINI HORSES Saturday, December 8 Noon to 2 p.m. Look for these mini equines and score a candy cane.

» our contributors ®


Meet the contributors to this month’s issue of Southwest Florida Parent & Child magazine.

MOMS APPRECIATION DAY Wednesday, December 18 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. in PLAYLAND Enjoy a little Mom time with a FREE treat at le macaron french pastries while your children attend Kids Crafts.

Brittany Carloni New Park

Opens in Naples • Brittany Carloni reports on Estero for the Naples Daily News and The Banner.

FRIDAY NIGHT CONCERT SERIES Friday, December 20 6 to 9 p.m. in the Restaurant Piazza The Silver Sneakers Band play high-energy dance music.

Noel Konken • In the Kitchen • Noel Konken, a registered dietitian, is a clinical pediatric dietitian at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.

FAMILY YOGA WITH KATHRYN Saturday, December 21 PLAYLAND 10 a.m. in BYOM (bring your own mat) to this FREE 45-minute beginners’ yoga class for families.

Jean Le Boeuf • Dining Out •

Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at facebook. com/jeanleboeufswfl or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.

PHOTOS WITH SANTA Thru Monday, December 23 Suite 182 A FREE photo with Santa is a gift that keeps on giving through the years.

KIDS DAY Saturday, December 28 10 a.m. to Noon PLAYLAND THE 12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS in Toddlers to 12-year-olds Monday, December 9 thru participate in fun activities and Friday, December 20 receive FREE pizza, ice cream and Holiday-themed social media face painting. While supplies last. contest. “Like” Miromar

Anne Reed • Spotlight: A Helping

Hand for Single Moms • Anne Reed is a writer, wife, runner, mother of three and dog-mom of two. Originally from the Midwest, she lives in Estero and loves watching the wildlife in her backyard.

Andrea Stetson • 30 Ways to Find Holiday Magic, Kid Stuff and Teens • Andrea Stetson writes for magazines and newspapers throughout Southwest Florida. She has also been a news producer and writer at television stations in Fort Myers, Miami and Scranton. Andrea lives in North Naples with her husband, daughter, dog and eight bunnies. Her son is a student at Georgia Tech.

Outlets on Facebook for more FREE KIDS CRAFTS Every Wednesday information. 10 a.m. to Noon SCIENCE SATURDAY PLAYLAND in Saturday, December 14 Your kids have fun and you save. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in With our Kids Crafts Reward PLAYLAND Card, you’ll receive a $10 Interactive science and engineering projects for kids. Miromar Outlets gift card after your fifth visit. HOLIDAY CONCERT Extended Holiday Hours beginning Saturday, December 14 Dec. 14. See Playland 6 p.m. in GIFT CARDS MAKE Students from Bonita Springs THE PERFECT Charter School perform.


Shop over 140 stores • Save up to 70% off Dine at our wide array of restaurants!

Copyright © 2019, Miromar Development Corporation. Miromar Outlets is a registered service mark of Miromar Development Corporation.



(239) 948-3766 • • I-75, Exit 123, Corkscrew Road, in Estero, between Naples & Fort Myers

Jennifer Thomas • Travel: Hawaii Christmas • Jennifer Thomas is a freelance travel writer who has extensively explored the U.S. and destinations abroad. A journalism graduate from Bowling Green State University and an Air Force veteran, she is the owner of the FSR Ventures public relations firm and Beauty Results PR. Jennifer lives in Fort Myers with husband Bill, daughter Kylie, and golden retriever Rosebud.

online » Get the latest event information and family news every day on our family-friendly site.


In the run-up to the Cat and Nat #MOMTRUTHS tour, we asked moms to share their embarrassing parenting story or bit of brutally honest advice. You did not disappoint (more online!): • Tami: When you hear your kids playing with their dolls and they have wine as there drinks.... mom fail! • Sarah: If being a mom was easy it wouldn’t have started with labor! • Amber: Daughter walked in on my husband and I having sex. She goes what are you guys doing? I said giv(ing) your Daddy • Grace: So we’re in the bathroom and there’s probably 2-3 women in there with

us and we all basically came out around the same time. Ryleigh looks over to a women in the process of walking out and gives her the “look” and says mama those are the type of people that get us all so sick because they don’t even wash their hands after using the potty” it was a mixture of clapping and blank stares trying to decide how they wanted to take it! • Mariela: My daughter has told me on many occasions that I'm fluffier then Daddy :)

Get SWFL Parent & Child anywhere at any time LIKE US ON FACEBOOK FOLLOW US ON TWITTER @swflparentchild FOLLOW US ON INSTAGRAM @swflparentchild FIND US ON PINTEREST swflparentchild READ US ON ISSUU

Thank You! Thank you to everyone who made Feed The Need 2019 a huge success! We were able to pack 10,000 meals for children in need in SWFL and the Bahama's in partnership with Harry Chapin Food Bank, Haven of Hope International, Community Cooperative and the owner of Boca Bargoons who personally flew donations to some of the worst-hit areas of the Bahamas!

Gold Sponsors

The community is invited to celebrate with us at the FMCS campus for our 1st annual Family Fun Day. January 25th

Other Sponsors McCann Realty Group

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Family Fun Day! Open House

10AM - 12PM

Join us for raffles, prizes, bounce house, petting zoo and much more! Let's celebrate that every child belongs at FMCS! #YouBelongHere

1550 Colonial Blvd. Fort Myers, FL 33907 phone: (239) 939-4642 | SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » DECEMBER 2019 » 9

Set out cookies and milk No one will mistake whose cookies these are! The Precious Moments Cookies and Milk for Santa plate set makes it clear. $20.99 at Bed Bath & Beyond,



Start with Insta comfort For ultimate coziness — and, yes, Instagram presentation — deck the family in coordinating holiday pajamas (some of us wear them year-round). We found these adorable Klaus X micro performance fleece pants for kids at Old Navy on sale for $14 (originally $22.99) along with cozy socks that come in a variety of looks, like elf shoes ($4.99).

Gather the family around and start a cozy tradition that includes hot cocoa, a holiday bedtime story and an eye on Santa.

Add an engaging story Move over, “Night Before Christmas.” “Home Alone” is the new classic bedtime story. “Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook,” designed with retro style by Kim Smith, is available for $18.95 on Amazon. com. Add “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” $18.99, for a double shot of fun.


Stir in some cocoa The Holiday Cocoa Cone Reindeer in the Wondershop at Target adds more fun than ordinary boxed mixes. $3.99 on

Track Ol’ Saint Nick You don’t want to still be awake when Santa Claus arrives in Southwest Florida, so track his location with the help of satellites, high-powered radar and jet fighters via NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command. They’ve been tracking the jolly old elf since the 1950s. Families can follow along at or through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and with @noradsanta.

eve time »

Turn in early Yep. With the Netflix New Year’s Eve Countdown Collection, midnight can arrive whenever you want (free trial available). In Naples, you can even go see fireworks first. The city launches its dazzling New Year’s Eve display in the Naples Pier area around 7 p.m. Then come home to a convenient Netflix countdown and send the kids to bed. What you do with the rest of evening is up to you.

Don’t forget the bubbly Nothing says special occasion like bubbles. Break out the Welch’s sparkling white grape juice for a kid-friendly toast to the new year. Available at Target, Publix and Walmart for about $3 a bottle. Now that’s a good year.

Top with a hat Party City has all sorts of New Year’s gear, from 2020 glasses to feathered masquerade masks. We like this pompom hat touting “This will be my year!” $5 at Party City.

New Year’s

EVE It’s time to party! Break out the noisemakers and have some family fun.

Add some madness Mad Libs created a New Year’s Eve edition with 21 fill-in-the-blank stories written especially for the occasion. Just add your adjectives, nouns, etc., and let the hilarity ensue. $4.85 on

Dress like it’s 2020 Join the party and celebrate the new year in style with some special “evening” wear. This boys’ New Year’s short sleeve graphic T-shirt from Cat & Jack is $6 at Target,


« fyi Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead expanding to Fort Myers Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead, an arts and sciences program founded in Naples by teachers Ryan and Hilary Shore, plans to open an additional location in south Fort Myers in January. At Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead’s after-school programs, summer camps and clubs, students learn about science, technology, engineering, art and math. The new location will be in the EXPO at Brantley plaza, 1901 Brantley Road, south Fort Myers. Get details at or call 239-451-3142.

Study: Helicopter parents’ kids more likely to burn out New research from Florida State University published in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that helicopter parenting leads to lower self-control among young adults and that, in turn, can contribute to school burnout. “They feel increasingly helpless, hopeless and resentful, exerting less effort on their studies, which leads to lower grades. In some cases, students end up dropping out of college,” says Professor Frank Fincham, an FSU Eminent Scholar and director of the FSU Family Institute.

Valerie’s House launches podcast to help grieving children Valerie’s House, a nonprofit that provides grief counseling services for children, recently launched the Grieve Love Heal podcast where families share their stories of grief in hopes of helping others. Listen at The organization also recently revealed plans to build a two-story home of 4,000 to 5,000 square feet on city-owned property off Veronica S. Shoemaker Boulevard in Fort Myers. The hope is to have numerous rooms for different activities, including a “volcano room” with punching bags and padded walls where kids can let off steam and a relaxation room for meditation and stretching.

Two big names announce shows in Southwest Florida We nearly jumped in a muddy puddle when we heard the news. Two big names in children’s entertainment are coming to Southwest Florida: Peppa Pig and JoJo Siwa. Tickets are now on sale for both. Peppa Pig Live! — the one who loves muddy puddles — will be at Hertz Arena on May 21 with a new performance that features favorite characters from the British television show as life-size puppets and costume characters in “Peppa Pig’s Adventure!” Kids join Peppa on a camping trip with George and her school friends. There’s singing, dancing, games and surprises. Get details at JoJo Siwa — Nickelodeon star, YouTube breakthrough pop artist and namesake of JoJo’s Bows — is coming to Southwest Florida. Tickets are on sale now for “Nickelodeon’s JoJo Siwa D.R.E.A.M. The Tour,” May 17 at Hertz Arena in Estero. Get details at



New consignment store caters to dads A new shop has made the area of Tenth Street North and Second Avenue North in Naples a triple threat, adding men’s wear alongside children’s items. Jennifer Holderman opened Happily Ever After Consignment Boutique, which caters to men and children, October 1, joining Twice as Nice Consignment on one side of the street, across from The Shelter Options Shoppe. “I felt like there was a need,” Jennifer told the Naples Daily News, to provide a place for men and children’s items in a community rich in consignment shops offering furniture and women’s clothing. “I know women love it because they can get rid of their man’s stuff.” The shop is at 991 Second Ave. N., Naples, and can be followed online at

Ft. Myers Cape Coral Naples


LadyCakes launches children’s book Bess Charles, the owner of LadyCakes Bakery in Cape Coral, released her first children’s book in November, “The Adventures of LadyCakes: Kindness is Sweet.” The book sells for $12.95 at the bakery and online at She has a book signing Saturday, December 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Williams Sonoma in the Bell Tower Shops, 13499 S. Cleveland Ave., Suite 157, south Fort Myers. Get details at SOUTHWEST FLORIDA PARENT & CHILD » DECEMBER 2019 » 13

« fyi


Lee graduations set for Memorial Day weekend The Lee County school board scheduled all 2020 high school graduations for Memorial Day weekend. The 13 traditional public high schools will have their ceremonies at one of three sites: Suncoast Credit Union at Florida SouthWestern State College, Alico Arena at Florida Gulf Coast University and Hertz Arena in Estero.

Cabbage winner hails from Port Charlotte Dylan Smith, a student at Liberty Elementary School in Port Charlotte, won the top prize in Florida in the National Bonnie Plants Cabbage Program. His prize is a $1,000 savings bond toward education expenses. The program is free to any thirdgrade classroom in the 48 contiguous states. Get details at


Ronald McDonald House adds on Ronald McDonald House Charities Southwest Florida announced plans for a House expansion with a groundbreaking in November. The house provides a homeaway-from-home for families with children who need medical care.

Wendy Stephan, who holds a doctorate in epidemiology and master’s degree in public health, is the health education coordinator at the Florida Poison Information Center – Miami.

ask the expert »


WHEN RED TIDE BLOOMS Poison control offers tips to keep kids safe from this unwelcome seasonal visitor.


n what’s becoming a seasonal trend, Southwest Florida has again been experiencing Florida red tide conditions. While not as intense as the red tides of 2017, beaches and coastal communities have received regular warnings associated with this environmental phenomenon since September. The Florida Poison Information Center – Miami, which serves Collier and Lee counties, is receiving calls from parents concerned about the effects of red tide on their children. Below are a few of the questions we receive during red tides:

Q: There have been reports of red tide in Southwest Florida again. Is this type of algae outbreak a danger to children? A: The organism responsible for Florida red tide, the microalgae Karenia brevis, occasionally goes through explosive growth periods known as “blooms.” During these blooms, the algae cells die, break apart and release brevetoxins into the water and air. On days with an onshore breeze, these toxins can irritate kids’ eyes, noses and will likely worsen asthma symptoms. Children with other lung conditions may also experience more serious symptoms

during red tides. It is still unknown if there are long-term effects from exposure to these toxins.

Q: What symptoms does it cause? A: The most common symptoms reported to poison centers related to red tide are eye and throat irritation, sneezing and coughing. Some people report skin rash, nausea or even vomiting if they’ve been swimming in an area with an active bloom. People with sensitive or highly reactive lungs may experience shortness of breath. In these cases, we recommend moving to a well air-conditioned area, and to seek emergency care if the sensation does not quickly resolve.

Q: What can families do to protect their children’s health? Does that differ between healthy kids and children with asthma or other similar conditions? A: It’s important to know which areas are impacted by red tide before making decisions about travel to the beach or outdoor activities. Updated conditions can be found by visiting and searching for “red tide current status.” Staying in an air-conditioned home or car is best,


« ask the expert (continued) particularly within a mile of the shore. For highly sensitive people who need to be outdoors, a well-fitting “N95” facemask may provide several hours of protection. Parents of children with asthma have reported that washing the child’s hair prior to bed minimizes overnight exposure from toxins transferred from their hair to the pillow. Caregivers may call poison control (1-800-222-1222) for other recommendations based on a child’s health history and symptoms.

Q: Are the precautions the same for other toxic algae outbreaks? A: In Florida, we also have periodic freshwater blooms of blue-green algae, or “cyanobacteria.” It is critical that children (and pets) do not drink water from algae-filled canals or ponds. We know much less about the airborne effects of the multiple toxins given off by these organisms, but people close to high intensity blooms have also reported irritation and coughing.

Q: Can we eat the fish from waters where red tide has been reported?

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A: It is safe to eat healthy, active fish caught in a red tide area, as well as fish served in restaurants. Do not eat (or allow pets to eat) fish that appear sickly or have been found on the shore. Shellfish beds will be closed by the Florida Department of Agriculture when a bloom is detected, since toxins can accumulate in filter feeders such as clams and oysters. Many important questions remain about the health effects of red tide, both in children and adults. Research is underway to help us make better recommendations and to help public authorities mitigate blooms’ effects. In the meantime, Florida’s poison control centers are available 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222 to answer your questions and assist with poisonings of all types. Calls to poison control are always free and confidential. More information is available on the Florida poison control center’s website,, and Facebook and Twitter feeds.

ASK THE EXPERT We welcome questions from readers. Ask us anything. We’ll find the answer. Send your question to with “Ask the Expert” in the subject line.

in the kitchen »

Noel Konken, a registered dietitian, is a clinical pediatric dietitian at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida.


THE GIFT OF COOKING TOGETHER Involving kids in the kitchen can help build strong relationships and healthy eating habits.

o matter which holidays you celebrate, one common theme among all special occasions is clear: Food. Imagine grandparents, parents and children alike all coming together in the kitchen to share family recipes passed from generation to generation. Not only do families have fun creating memories and family traditions in the kitchen, family cooking is also a great tactic to help your child build healthy eating habits. Now, it is true, teaching your child how to cook may take time, it may take patience, and it most definitely will take extra cleanup. However, cooking with your kids has the benefits of making them more inclined to try nutritious foods and sit at the table for a structured family mealtime — and let’s not negate the quality time you will get to spend with your child that does not involve sitting in front of a screen.

Here’s how to get started: GET THEM INTERESTED: Parents need to display role model behavior when it comes to preparing and eating nutritious foods. Keep the dialogue with your child open when preparing a healthful meal and remember to explain why you choose to eat foods such as fruits, vegetables or whole grains. Kids like to eat the food they make, and getting them involved in preparing foods they otherwise would not be willing to try can help combat pickyeating. GET THEM HANDS-ON: Children of different ages

can provide assistance at different levels. Allow your youngest children to help with tasks such as: • Washing fruits and vegetables • Tearing lettuce or greens • Mixing and pouring premeasured ingredients • Cutting fresh herbs with kid-safe scissors • Setting the table Whereas older children can take on a little more responsibility such as: • Measuring liquid and dry ingredients • Cracking eggs


» in the kitchen (continued)

• Peeling oranges • Preheating an oven • Boiling water GET THEM CREATIVE: Allow children to use their creative skills and go “off” recipe with guidance. A fun exercise is playing with different spice and seasoning combinations using plain popped popcorn. Allow your child to smell and experiment with different spice combinations to sprinkle on plain popcorn to see which seasonings they like best.

with a lower-risk kitchen appliance such as a crock pot or toaster oven. If your child is old enough to use a knife (at least 10), ensure the knife is sharpened and add protection with a steel glove and strict supervision. Also, don’t forget to review the importance of good hand hygiene.

KEEP THEM SAFE: It is important to emphasize safety in the kitchen, from food-borne illness to risk of physical injury. No one knows your child better than you, so it is best for you to determine when your child is ready to help with using a heated oven or stove top. If you do not think your child is ready, start

Taffy Apple Salad When Noel was a child, she often made this with her mother. INGREDIENTS » ½ packet (about 2 ounces) instant butterscotch pudding » 1 can (8.25 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained » 6 Granny Smith apples, diced » 8 ounces Cool Whip » 2 cups mini marshmallows

» 1 cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped (optional) DIRECTIONS 1. Mix crushed pineapple with pudding mix in a large bowl. 2. Add apples, Cool Whip, marshmallows and peanuts (optional). 3. Refrigerate for 2 hours prior to serving.

10 Years Aglow Presented By

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239.643.7275 18 » DECEMBER 2019 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

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dining out »

Jean Le Boeuf is the pseudonym used by a local food lover who dines at restaurants anonymously and without warning, with meals paid for by The News-Press and Naples Daily News. Follow the critic at or @JeanLeBoeuf on Twitter and Instagram.

CHEAP EATS IN NAPLES Five Naples restaurants that offer good food at an even better price.


’ve dined at some highand-mighty institutions in my day, the kind where four stars often equals five dollar signs. But nothing grabs my attention quite like quality food that doesn’t break the bank. From tacos to burgers, here are five Naples restaurants serving up good food at an even better price.

Maria’s Tacos y Mas

a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on that French bread for $6.50. More: 5417 Airport-Pulling Road, Naples; 239-2548155;

North Naples Country Club

Maria’s Tacos y Mas

The tiny Maria’s Tacos y Mas in North Naples only has about three tables, but it has delicious food with a huge bang for your buck. On Thursdays, the restaurant offers a two-tacos-for-$3 deal. If you don’t want tacos, Maria’s serves $8 quesadilla and burrito meals that come with a side of beans and rice, and little containers of tomatillo and hot sauces. Thursday is also the only day Maria’s makes tamales. And at three tamales for $8, Thursday might be my new favorite day of the week. More: 9331 U.S. 41 N., Naples; 239919-8337; find it on Facebook:

Hibachi of Japan

Hibachi of Japan is the ultimate Wednesday-night meal. You’ve run out of feasible ingredients for a weekday dinner, you don’t have time to grocery shop until Friday, and you need leftovers to bring to work for lunch on Thursday. Boom: Hibachi of Japan. The most expensive item on the menu is an $11.95 steak-and-shrimp entree that comes with a cup of clear or miso soup,

a large helping of fried rice and a plate full of steak, shrimp and hibachi-seared vegetables. Add on a $5 eel roll or a $4 California roll and you’re still under $20, with leftovers aplenty. More: Multiple locations,

Gustitos Bakery

Gustitos serves one of my favorite sandwiches in Naples, the chicharron made with marinated pork, soft slices of sweet potato and criolla sauce laid delicately on freshly baked French bread. I usually spring for the No. 10 combo meal, which includes the chicharron, an enormous empanada, a drink and either chips or a cookie. Skip the Lay’s, because those cookies are made in-house and their taste is unparalleled. All that food will cost you only $11.50. Gustitos combos range from $7.25 to $12.50 and include variations of soups, empanadas, tamales, pastries and sandwiches. Did I mention they do breakfast, too? Pick up

North Naples Country Club is your typical dive bar. However, I’ve been told this place has some of the best chicken tenders in Naples, made grilled, blackened or fried, and served with fries and coleslaw for $9.99. There’s also a fried clam strips basket for the same price. The classic burger comes with choice of side — with options ranging from pickled beets and tomato slices, to french fries and tater tots — for $8.99. More: 10095 U.S. 41 N., Naples; 239-594-0555;

Brooks Burgers

If Brooks Burgers’ inventive use of flavors and ingredients isn’t enticing enough, the restaurant’s low prices are sure to bring any cost-conscious patron to the door. The menu includes items such as the Fig & F.I.N.E. burger with fig jam, buttered onions and goat cheese for $11.50 and the Goober burger with peanut butter and bacon for $10.50. The two most expensive burgers on the menu — the Farm burger and the Reuben burger — cost $12.50 (and are well worth a bit of a splurge). More: Multiple locations;


» kid stuff

An old-fashioned

CHRISTMAS Historic homes lend nostalgia and learning to the holiday season for the whole family. BY ANDREA STETSON


n old Victrola plays holiday music, electric candles twinkle on a tree, large gold, green and red baubles hang from garland. The decorations are quite different from the modern inflatables of Santa being pulled by flamingoes, or laser projections of lights swirling on houses and trees. At several historic homes in Collier and Lee counties, decorations harken back to the olden days, giving families a look at an old-fashioned Christmas while also teaching children history. The Naples Historical Society’s Christmas at Palm Cottage invites families to see what the

holidays were like in the late 1800s and early 1900s during their 20th annual holiday event. The oldest house in Naples, built in 1895, was constructed of tabby mortar and handmade concrete consisting of sand, shells and water. The 3,500-square-foot, two-story home was built by one of Naples’ founding residents Walter Haldeman. December 3-28, Palm Cottage is decorated for the holidays and hosts special presentations. There are tours of the cottage Tuesday through Friday. Then, during the free 10 Days of Christmas special event, guests can see a variety of special attractions 4 to 7 p.m. December 10-14 and 17-21. On Tuesdays, there’s Christmas piano music. On Wednesdays, longtime residents tell stories of the holidays long ago. On the last


If you go PALM COTTAGE When: The Palm Cottage

is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 1-4 p.m. Saturday, December 3-28; the 10 Days of Christmas takes place 4 to 7 p.m. December 10-14 and 17-21

Where: Palm Cottage,

137 12th Ave. S., Naples

Cost: Tours are $13 for

nonmembers, free for members and children younger than 10. The 10 Days of Christmas event is free for everyone. Reservations for tours recommended.

Details: 239-261-8164,


December 13-22 (Santa visits 6 to 8 p.m. nightly)

Where: Burroughs Home & Gardens, 2505 First St., and Langford-Kingston Home, 2500 First St., Fort Myers (across First Street

from each other at the corner Fowler Street and First)

Cost: $5 for adults, free

for ages 10 and younger and military with ID

Details: 239-931-0997,

EDISON AND FORD WINTER ESTATES When: 6-9 p.m. through December 30 (closed December 24 and 25)

Where: Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers

Cost: Self-guided tours

are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 13-19, $2 for ages 6-12 and free for members. Guided tours are $30 for adults, $25 for ages 13-19, $18 for ages 6-12 and $10 for members. Lee County residents get $5 off Monday and Tuesday nights.

Details: 239-334-7419, edisonfordwinter


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evening, in front of the fireplace, Ray Carroll reads “A Visit From St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.” “On the 19th, they will talk about the Victrola, and the kids love that program,” says Nancy Holcomb, events coordinator. “What they would enjoy about visiting during the day is there are four or five Christmas trees.” Children also enjoy seeing some of the items from the olden days. They are often fascinated by the typewriter, stereoscope and especially by the white and pink porcelain chamber pot. They also get to see what life was like when there was no air conditioning, plumbing or electricity. They learn about the parlor, a real fireplace, how clothes were washed on an old washboard and more. In Fort Myers every year, the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club decorates the Burroughs and LangfordKingston homes. Holiday House began in the 1950s when club members would decorate their own homes and invite the public to view them. About 15 years ago, the festivities were moved downtown. This is the event’s 63rd year. Paige LeBoutillier says the event is great for families with children. “Santa is there every evening,” she begins. “Mostly for families it is the value. It is only $5 for adults and children 10 and under are free. It is a way for them to see beautiful decorated homes, visit with Santa, and it is an affordable price.” The tours are self-guided, which makes it easier for parents with small children who don’t want to linger too long in each location. Paige says the decorations are done in traditional colors of shiny blue and purple and orange and deep green colors. At the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, also in Fort Myers, the 44th annual Holiday Nights is a chance to not only see the decorations but to learn about the men who made history with their inventions. “Most people know about the lightbulb, but they might not know that they had a lab trying to find a natural resource to produce rubber,” says Lisa Wilson, public relations director. “There are some demonstrations inside the museum that are on a kid’s level, talking about things we make out of rubber, like a rubber superball or tires on a car. Even little kids can learn about that. That is something really interesting for kids especially kids that are a little older and have an interest in science.” This year the decorations will have a nautical theme, such as boats, boat rope and aquatic life. “During Holiday Nights, it is very pretty,” Lisa says, “but anytime visitors come here they can learn the history of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford.”

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teens »


Myanah Harris, 10, squirts her friends as she enjoys the bumper boats at Zoomers in south Fort Myers.


HANGOUT Some expert advice from those who’ve been there. BY ANDREA STETSON

eenagers enjoy hanging out at the Kaufmann home in North Naples. There’s a swimming pool, pingpong, a pool table and other fun activities. Most of all, they find the house welcoming. When teenagers are at your home, you know where they are, you know they are safe and what they are doing. Yet making a home teen-friendly can be a balancing act of supervision, things to do and sometimes just plain luck of where teens want to gravitate. “First of all, I always offer it,” Barb Kaufmann says about her home. “I always let them know that their friends are always welcome here. I make sure there are activities for them. One of the things we bought was a pool table that is also a pingpong table.” Her sons Adler, 18, and Alden, 16, enjoy being with their friends at home. Her daughter did, too, before heading off to college. “We do karaoke,” Barb continues. “I plan ‘Minute to Win It’ parties. I just asked him if he wanted a cookie exchange, and believe it or not, he said yes he would like to do it.”


« teens (continued)

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Barb says there was a transition to finding the balance when her children became teenagers. “Time goes so quickly,” she says. “Before you know it, they are gone. This is when we are supposed to go from policeman to coach. We want to give that opportunity for other kids, too.” Barb says her sons and their friends enjoy mini white elephant giveaways where everyone brings a little gift and they have a fun exchange. There have been movie nights at the Kaufmann house, too. Sometimes the kids enjoy watching a trilogy of movies. They play card games, such as Texas Hold ’em, Blackjack or poker using candy or cookies as payment. “They have a blast,” Barb says. “Sometimes I am involved, and sometimes I walk away, and they do it. My kids just want to have a place to hang out with their friends and have a good time.” Alden, 16, does have a good time with friends in his home. “In the summer time, the pool is usually a nice thing,” Alden says. “Sometimes when I was younger, we would put tarps outside with soap and make a slide. It is nice to have pingpong tournaments.” Alden says having snacks is also important. “Cokes, chips, variety packs of snacks,” he says. Laura Pacter, of North Naples, has three teenage daughters and likes when they hang out at her home, too. “We do some movies on the lawn here and there,” she says. They also have pool parties on some Friday nights. “It’s about the parent’s attitude more than anything,” says Stacey Brown, a license mental health counselor in private practice in Fort Myers who has three daughters ages 15, 16 and 19. “If you want teenagers to come and hang out at your house, you have to have that welcoming attitude.” During the teen years, parents need to re-evaluate their style and expectations, she says. “You need to make sure you are not too drill sergeant,” Stacey explains. When younger children come over, the parent is more involved organizing activities and overseeing each craft, game or event. That changes when teens come over. “Allow the kids to hang out,” Stacey says. “You have to be able to manage the place and provide some supervision. But then you need to give the kids space.” Stacey says when teenagers arrive at her house, she offers them something to eat or drink and asks if they want music. “I was always available to hang out if they wanted,” she says, “but mostly what is the most helpful is to give them space.”

spotlight »


Kristen Peterson is the founder and president of A Mom’s Helping Hand of SWFL, a nonprofit aimed at helping single moms. Her house had been “flocked.” This is one of the fundraisers the group does.

A HELPING HAND FOR SINGLE MOMS Kristen Peterson supports single mothers in numerous ways through the creation of A Mom’s Helping Hand of SWFL. STORY BY ANNE REED

ommy, get out of bed.” It’s been 16 years since Kristen Peterson, founder and president of A Mom’s Helping Hand of SWFL, heard her 7-year-old daughter say those words. She still remembers that day, her daughter standing by her bed and asking her, “Don’t you even care if I had a good day? I still need a mom.” “It was a slap in my face,” Kristen says. “No 7-year-old should have to come to their mother and feel that their mother doesn’t love them. No child should feel that way, ever.” Kristen had relocated to her mother’s Cape Coral home from Connecticut with her four children, ages 1 month to 7 years old, after going through a divorce.

“I was so depressed when I got here,” she explains. “It was extremely difficult, trying to get over the divorce and dealing with all of these emotional issues.” One of the biggest difficulties Kristen faced was finding resources and support for single mothers. “There are a lot less services here than there are in New England,” she says. “It was a big shock for me. My ex was in the Navy, so the lack of services here was phenomenal.” A few months after moving to Cape Coral, and after her tough-love talk from her daughter, Kristen got a job and started saving money so she could afford to move into her own home. It seemed like things were falling into place; she was working as a K-2 teacher at a school in Fort Myers and the kids were thriving.


« spotlight (continued)

“Although I had things together, I was still struggling to figure out how I was going to do things on my own,” she says. “Just taking care of my kids and working was all I could muster up the energy for each day.”

FINDING SUPPORT Several years later, Kristen connected with a group of local single moms, and she felt like a weight was lifted off her shoulders. “While you do have family and friends who say they understand what you are going through, they can’t really understand if they haven’t been through it,” she says. The support she received though the group, and the opportunities she found to support others, started Kristen on the path to founding A Mom’s Helping Hand of SWFL. She started researching 501(c)(3) organizations in November 2014, filed in January and was approved in February 2015. “In March or April, I took a class through Goodwill on running your own business,” she recalls. “I figured that would help me run my own nonprofit.” She started with four board members, including herself. “I jumped in feet-first and figured if it’s meant to be, God is going to make it happen,” Kristen says. The first project they launched was a series of support group meetings. “We geared a lot of our programs towards what I struggled with as a single mom trying to raise kids here,” she says. “Support is and always will be a key factor of the organization. When you go home and you have a husband or wife at home, you have that other person to tag team with. That is where our support groups come in. Oftentimes the moms come in to this group and find that they now have someone to call.” Another program they launched was directly tied to something Kristen


Kristen Peterson

struggled with early on as a single mom: birthday parties. “I couldn’t afford to take my kids to Greenwell’s or anything like that,” she explains. “Even having a party at home, I didn’t have the basics. I wanted to make sure every child could have a party whether parents could afford it or not.” The next program was directed toward helping single mothers provide school supplies for their children. “One thing I wasn’t used to when I moved here was having to supply all of the school supplies,” she says. “Trying to put four kids in school, I was easily spending a good $200 just in supplies.” A Mom’s Helping Hand covers 100% of the school supply lists for moms in the program, unless it is a specialty item. Over the years, more programs followed. Once a month, A Mom’s Helping Hand opens the office to moms in the program so they can pick up toiletries and stretch their grocery budgets or, for those who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as SNAP, save the money they would have spent on toiletries and put it toward other necessities. About three years ago, the nonprofit partnered with a Cape Coral business to provide a complete Thanksgiving dinner for each of the families. “This year she asked how many we had, and I quietly whispered 30,” Kristen says. She was unsure if that number

would be too high for the business to cover. Their response? “She said, ‘Awesome, we’re up for it!’ We have some really amazing and generous people here in our community.” That includes the parent-teacher organization at Oasis Elementary who have stepped up to help as the program has grown. Launching so many programs their first year may have been a bit ambitious, but Kristen has no regrets. And with so many programs, and families to help, funding was needed, especially when it came to providing school supplies. The board’s idea that first year was such a hit, it continues to be their main fundraiser each year: flocking. “We tried to stop flocking, but people keep calling,” she says. Flocking involves someone paying A Mom’s Helping Hand to place a large number of flamingos in someone’s yard to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or as a practical joke. “We had someone call us because their brother was going for open heart surgery and they wanted to give him a laugh,” Kristen says. “Now it’s kind of evolved.” Flocking still funds the school supply program, which helped 150 families this year and 400 the previous year, and the funds now stretch to cover opening the office for group meetings. Other fundraisers include yard cards, Mother’s Day flowers and car washes. The generosity and support of the

Santa Claus is coming to Zoomers! community has allowed A Mom’s Helping Hand to stretch beyond the 31 families in their program, especially during the holidays.

SWFL SANTAS The holidays can be a stressful time for families, and the SWFL Santas is another program that started from an area where Kristen struggled as a single mother. “We live in a very giving community, especially at Christmas time,” she says. “Last year we helped 50 families in addition to the 25 families within our program.” The program pairs a family in need during the holidays with a business organization or family or community member who adopts them for the holidays. The family provides a wish list. “We tell everyone it’s just suggestions,” Kristen says, noting that they try to avoid filling the list with expensive items. “If we find that a child needs a little bit more, we will purchase that ourselves.” A Mom’s Helping Hand also helps supplement the Santas, meaning that, if a donor is only able to provide one gift for a child, the organization will get a few more presents for the child. And Kristen notes that a unique part of the program is that teens are not left out. “We know that teenagers need to have something under the tree,” she says. “So we do not do an age cut-off at elementary school or middle school.” The program starts months before the holidays, and A Mom’s Helping Hand works to ensure that families within their program are adopted first prior to opening the program to other families in need. “We guarantee our families that if we don’t get them adopted, we will make sure they have Christmas,” she explains. “We’ve never had someone go without Christmas.”

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MOVING FORWARD A Mom’s Helping Hand started with five families in 2015 and continues to grow each year. To participate, a single mother must be living on her own in a home, and Kristen notes they do home visits to ensure that there is not a significant other sharing the residence. Children who are part of the program must be 18 years of age or younger, unless there are special circumstances. Mothers must attend at least two meetings or training classes each quarter, something that ties back to why Kristen started the program — support. “It’s the biggest part of our program,” she notes. “And it’s difficult to give support to people you don’t know.”


Holiday Dance Party

« spotlight (continued)

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The final requirement is they must volunteer for the organization three hours each quarter. Volunteer opportunities include helping in the office, assisting with the flamingo flocking and helping with other fundraisers. Trainings are offered in resume writing and interview skills, household budgeting and career advancement. “Often we come across young moms who are first-time single moms and are lost,” Kristen says. “We want to try and give them the skills they need to make it.” Kristen hopes to add more training for the moms, including sessions on legal issues like the importance of having a will. She also wants to add case managers to the program, and, just like she started A Mom’s Helping Hand based on her own experiences and needs, Kristen has taken the need for case managers into her own hands. “I’m currently working towards my master’s degree in human services,” she says. “I always thought my future was going to be in business, to be a top manager somewhere. When I started A Mom’s Helping Hand, I found my passion. Now that my children are older, I want to go into case management. I’d love to have A Mom’s Helping Hand be my full-time career.” The nonprofit is currently run by single moms who work full time, which makes it difficult for those involved to create more programs and write curriculum. But that’s something Kristen hopes will change as the program grows and more funds are donated. Further in the future, she would like to add a residence facility where single moms can stay as they try to get back on their feet. “The residence would tie in with each mother having a case manager,” she says. “We do an intake program and I want someone to sit with each new mom and say these are the issues you told me about, so let’s make an action plan. It can be very scary, depending on what stage of single motherhood you are in. It can be very scary, not knowing what you are doing tomorrow.” But it isn’t just newly single moms that A Mom’s Helping Hand are there for. Kristen notes that often women who have been single moms for a while find the program and the support and say, “Thank God I found you guys.” And Kristen notes that, while so many years have passed since she arrived at her mother’s house in Cape Coral, she still struggles and still needs support. “There is no accomplishment, no getting over being a single mom and needing someone to talk to,” she says. “I still have my moments when I feel overwhelmed and I still have things of my own I need to do. The need for help and support never ends.” The organization will start its sixth year in January. “We are doing what we are supposed to be doing,” Kristen says. “And in the future, I want to see that A Mom’s Helping Hand is thriving.”


recreation »

Xander Rodriguez, 3, of Naples, explores Baker Park’s new playground with his parents, Meslin Simeon-Rodriguez and Alfred Rodriguez, during the park’s grand opening on October 29.

NEW PARK OPENS IN NAPLES The long-awaited Baker Park features a playground, walking and biking paths, a grassy knoll and more. BY BRITTANY CARLONI

Chris Harris and Lindy Curran


« recreation (continued)

Baker Park on opening day, October 29. The $15 million park features a kayak launch, bike paths, walkways, a playground and a sunrise terrace.

Gianna on stage with cast of “Once”

hildren play on a giant slide at the playground near an arch of blue and white balloons. People walk dogs along paved paths lined with palm trees. Others ride bicycles. The final sections of the longawaited Baker Park in Naples opened October 29, and city leaders celebrated at a dedication ceremony for the 15acre property along Goodlette-Frank Road north of U.S. 41 East. “I’m the happiest person here, for all the future grandchildren and moms and dads that will pass through this park,” Naples Mayor Bill Barnett said on opening day. “It’s beautiful.” Baker Park, which anchors the southern end of the Gordon River

Greenway, is the city’s first new park since Cambridge-Perry Park opened about 10 years ago near River Park in Naples. The new addition is named for Jay and Patty Baker, who donated $2 million to the project. Jay Baker is the retired president of Kohl’s department stores. Patty Baker is a Tony Awardwinning Broadway producer. In an interview with the Naples Daily News on opening day, the couple said they were thrilled to see the completed park. “We think this is going to be one of the best parks,” Jay said. “It’s incredible.” Work on Baker Park gained momentum in 2013 when Naples approved the purchase of 7 acres

alongside a former 8-acre horticultural landfill. The city also purchased 5 acres of mangrove forest along the Gordon River. Baker Park includes a kayak launch, an outdoor fitness facility and a sunrise terrace, which all opened in March. A bike path, main park building and a grassy knoll were among the park amenities that opened to the public this fall. “The whole thing is just unique,” said Dana Souza, the city’s community services director. Construction of a $4.4 million pedestrian bridge across the Gordon River began in summer 2017. The Naples City Council gave final approval to the park in January 2018. Total construction costs for Baker

IF YOU GO Baker Park is at 10 Riverside Circle, Naples. Get more details at 30 » DECEMBER 2019 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

“We think this is going to be one of the best parks. It’s incredible.” — JAY BAKER

Park were less than $15 million and under budget, according to the city. Naples received millions of dollars in donations for Baker Park. In addition to the Bakers’ donation, the city received $3.1 million from The Blair Foundation for the pedestrian bridge and the bike path. Alan Ryker, a founding member of the Naples Pathways Coalition, spent time riding the bike trails opening day. “It’s fabulous,” Ryker said of the park. “It’s something we will leave for generations to come.” Cathy Faerber, the executive director of the Naples Pathways Coalition, said she sees an opportunity to connect the bike trails at Baker Park with the Paradise Coast Trail, a vision for a 70-mile multiuse pathway in Collier County. “The Blair fast-track trail is great,” she said. “We love parks and we love trails and we want to see the momentum growing.” A time capsule will be displayed or buried at the park with a letter from the mayor and memorabilia from the Naples City Council. “Fifty years from now,” the mayor said, “some council will open it and see what we were up to today.”


Elijah Prettyman, 4, and Rowan Prettyman, 18 months, at our December cover photo shoot. PHOTO BY AMANDA INSCORE


cover story »


winkling lights and sometimes even carolers can be found on parades of decked-out





boats. Snow is made from blocks of ice thrust through a chipper. It might still be sunny and warm in Southwest Florida, but even the palm trees get into the holiday spirit. And with new synthetic rinks, families can even enjoy a holiday skate. All around town there are activities and decorations that transform this area into a winter holiday wonderland.


« cover story (continued)

Lee County Edison and Ford Holiday Nights The 44th annual Holiday Nights incorporates new attractions this year. “We have some new lights for the huge Mysore fig tree,” says Lisa Wilson, public relations director. “We have lights going up and down the tree choreographed to music.” This year’s “River Reflection” theme brings a nautical touch, too. “A lot of decorations will look like boats or things that have to do with the water,” Lisa says. The Children’s Tree Trail returns with some 60 trees decked out in ornaments made by Lee County students.

• When: 6-9 p.m. through December 30; closed December 24-25 • Where: Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers • Cost: Self-guided tours are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 1319 and $2 for ages 6-12, free for ages 5 and younger and members. Guided tours are $30 for adults, $25 for teens, $18 for children and $10 for members. Lee County residents get $5 off on Monday and Tuesday nights. • Details: 239-334-7419, holidaynights

Holiday in the Park There will be a blizzard in Riverside Park, says Lora Taylor, communications director for the city


Edison H oliday


of Bonita Springs. The event includes a giant snow slide and snow pile. There will also be visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Local dance schools are set to perform. A chorus of local school children are expected to sing. Plus, there’ll be free cookies and cider.

• When: 4:30-8:30 p.m. December 3. • Where: Riverside Park, 10451 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs • Cost: Free • Details: 239-949-6262

Festival of Trees & Santa’s Block Party For the first time, in the middle of the trees: ice skating. Organizers are bringing in a synthetic ice skating rink for all ages. Plus, of course, the event features beautifully decorated trees, gifts and goodies. Families won’t want to miss Santa’s Block Party on Saturday, December 7. In addition to a visit with Santa and activities outside, the Children’s Workshop inside buzzes with crafts and projects from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., then again Sunday, December 8.

• When: December 6-8. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday,

December 6, with a special feature, Skating with Big Mama from B-103.9 from 4 to 6 p.m.; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, December 7 (skating until 5:30 p.m.); 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, December 8. Tree raffle drawing is at 2 p.m. Sunday. The Children’s Workshop is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. • Where: Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers • Cost: Admission is $2 for ages 12 and older, free for younger children. Skating is $8 for ages 12 and older, $5 for ages 3 to 11 (ages 3-5 must be accompanied by a paying adult). Children’s Workshop is $6. • Details: 239-995-2106 or 239-333-1933,

Holiday Festival of Lights Visit Santa in Christmas Town Center, ride the Tiny Tot Train around Snowcap Square (where there’s also a snow slide), enjoy live entertainment, bounce in Candy Cane Park and shop in the Holiday Village. Food vendors. Tree

Santa Fest

lighting, too. Plus, free photos with Santa. Santa arrives around 6:30 p.m.

• When: 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, December 7 • Where:

Downtown Cape Coral on Cape Coral Parkway • Cost: Admission and activities are free. • Details: 239-549-6900, ext. 111,

Holiday House This is the 63rd year of this annual event, which takes place in two historic homes in downtown Fort Myers. This year’s theme is the colors of Christmas. “It will remind people of the vintage mid-’50s Christmas,” says Paige LeBoutillier, of the Fort Myers Woman’s Community Club, which does all the organizing and decorating for the event. Paige says there will be shiny bright ornaments with shiny blue and purple and orange and deep green colors. Santa is there every evening. Tours are self-guided. Money raised goes back to the Burroughs House and LangfordKingston Home to help pay for upkeep and improvements

• When: 5-9 p.m. December

13-22 (Last tour begins at 8:30; Santa visits 6-8 p.m.)• Where: Burroughs and LangfordKingston homes, 2505 and 2500 First St., Fort Myers (The houses are across the street from each other at First and Fowler streets.) • Cost: $5 for adults and teens, free for ages 10 and younger and military with ID • Details: 239-9310997,

At th park e s

This yearly festival includes games, bounce houses, food trucks, photos with Santa, face painting and a movie in the park, the 2018 version of “The Grinch.” When: 3-9 p.m. Saturday, December 7 (photos with Santa, 4-6 p.m.; movie starts at 6:30 p.m.) Where: Wa-Ke Hatchee Park, 16760 Bass Road, south Fort Myers. Cost: Free. Toy donations for Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida welcome. Details: 239-432-2154, leegov. com/wake

North Fort Myers Community Christmas There’ll be caroling, the official tree lighting ceremony and a movie in the park.

• When: 4 to 9:30 p.m., Saturday, December 7 • Where: North Fort Myers Park, 2000 N. Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers • Cost: Free • Details: 239-533-7200,

North Fort Myers Breakfast with Santa Enjoy a continental breakfast with Santa. Make a holiday craft, write a letter to Santa, and take home a picture with him.

• When: 9:30 a.m. Saturday,

December 14 • Where: North Fort Myers Park and Recreation Center, 2000 N. Recreation Park Way, North Fort Myers • Cost: $3 • Details: 239-533-7200,

Breakfast with the Kringles Veterans Park in Lehigh hosts a continental-style breakfast, holiday crafts and a special visit with “Mr. and Mrs. Kringle.”

• When: 10 a.m. Saturday, December 14 • Where: Veterans Park, 55 Homestead Road S., Lehigh Acres • Cost: $5 for ages 11 and younger, $3 for adults and children 12 and older for breakfast only. • Details: 239369-1521,

Lakes Park Holiday Express The annual and beloved Holiday Express transports you on a little train through a winter wonderland with lights and decorations.

• When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

and 6 to 9 p.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends, December 13-30; closed December 24 and 25 • Where: Lakes Regional Park, 7330 Gladiolus Drive, south Fort Myers • Cost: $6 for ages 6 to adult, free for ages 1-5 • Details: 239267-1905,

Check out the libraries The libraries throughout Southwest Florida host numerous holiday events for children and teens, many free of charge. Contact your library for details. Lee: Collier:


« cover story (continued)

Collier County Christmas Walk & Tree Lighting It’s the 46th annual tree lighting. This year Naples is putting on a two-day festival and adding new activities, including ice skating. On Friday, December 6, in addition to the tree lighting, there’s a festival with activities, music, a visit from Santa — and an ice skating rink. On Saturday, December 7, there’s a market with food and vendors.

• Where: The tree lighting takes

place in Sugden Plaza along Fifth Avenue South. That’s where Santa will be. The festival runs along Fifth Avenue from Ninth Street to Third Street. • When: 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, December 6 (tree lighting at 6:15 p.m.) and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, December 7 • Cost: Free admission • Details: 239-692-8436,

Snowfest In 1985 Collier County wanted to give the community the feeling of a snowy holiday in sunny Southwest Florida. It started with 5 tons of snow and a few hundred people. Now 1,200 blocks of ice are pushed through a chipper to create 100 tons of snow that blanket the area by the Golden Gate Community Center. There are snow mountains, the polar plunge (a large inflatable slide), a double snow slide and a snow wall. The event also has a laser battle, dodge ball, a 360-degree inflatable obstacle course, Santa’s Selfies and Mrs. Claus’s Kitchen. New this year is a live band, a bike raffle where 50 bicycles will be raffled and a video game truck. A carnival coincides with the holiday fun.

• When: Snowfest is 3 to 9 p.m. Saturday, December 7. The carnival runs 6 to 10 p.m.


December 5 and 6, 3 to 10 p.m. December 7 and 2 to 10 p.m. December 8. • Where: Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples • Cost: Admission to Snowfest is $2 per person, ages 3 and younger admitted free. Carnival admission is free; cost of rides, food and attractions vary. • Details: 239252-4000, or

Naples Christmas Parade The annual parade in downtown Naples features floats, marching bands from local high schools and lots of holiday costumed characters.

• When: 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, December 10 • Where: The parade lines up on Broad Avenue, turns right onto Third Street South, then right on FIfth Avenue South and ends on Eighth Street near Broad Avenue. • Cost: Free • Details: 239-213-7120,

Holiday on the Bay A snow show, free photos with Santa, stories with Mrs. Claus, Dickens period carolers, dance performances, shopping and dining. The snow show features snow machines inside the giant holiday tree. “For a solid hour, you have snow coming out all around the tree,” says Torie Marini, the marketing and social media manager at The Village Shops on Venetian Bay.

• When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturdays through December 21 and 2 to 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, December 24. The Snow Show is 7 to 8 p.m. (4 to 5 p.m. on December 24). • Where: The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, 4200 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples (on the North side near the fountains) • Cost: Free • Details: 239-261-6100,

Santa Paws Pet owners can get free photos of their furry friends with Santa. This year the event has been extended for an hour longer. “It is pretty much packed the entire time. That is why we extended it,” says Torie Marini, of The Village Shops on Venetian Bay.

• When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, December 12 • Where: The Village Shops on Venetian Bay, 4200 Gulf Shore Blvd. N., Naples (on the North side near the fountains) • Cost: Free • Details: 239-261-6100, venetianvillage. com

Tuba Christmas It’s all about that bass. This is the holiday concert’s 22nd year featuring the beloved tuba.

• When: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14 • Where: Sugden Plaza, 701 Fifth Ave. S., Naples • Cost: Free • Details: 239-692-8436,

Christmas at Palm Cottage The historic Palm Cottage in Naples is decorated with traditional holiday décor. During the Naples Historical Society’s Ten Days of Christmas, the cottage hosts special presentations, music and holiday traditions. If you want to take a tour, reservations are recommended.

• When: Noon to 4 p.m. TuesdayFriday, 1-4 p.m. Saturdays, December 3-28; Ten Days of Christmas is 4 to 7 p.m. December 10-14 and 17-21. • Where: Palm Cottage, 137 12th Ave. S., Naples • Cost: Tours are $13 for ages 10 and older, free for members and

children younger than 10. During the Ten Days of Christmas, tours are free for everyone. • Details: 239-261-8164,

New Year’s Eve Fireworks Fireworks soar in the sky over the Gulf of Mexico in Naples. And they happen early enough to be in bed by midnight.

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, December 31 • Where: The fireworks are launched off a barge near the Naples Pier. Best viewing sites are anywhere near the Naples Pier, 12th Avenue South, Naples. • Cost: Free • Details: 239-213-7120,

Breakfast with Santa

Mor at th e park e s

A pancake breakfast with Santa is provided by the Kiwanis Club and the community center staff.

Candy House Creation

• When: 9:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, December 7 • Where:

Children ages 4-12 use an assortment of candy, frosting and cookies to create a holiday candy house.

Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway • Cost: $3 • Details: 239-2524000,

Christmas Event Kids ages 5-13 and their families enjoy crafts, food, music and photos with Santa.

• When: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, December 13 • Where: Max

Hasse Community Park, 3390 Golden Gate Blvd. W., Naples • Cost: $5 per family • Details: 239-2524000,

• When: 4 to 5 p.m. Friday, December 20 • Where: Vineyards Community Park, 6231 Arbor Blvd., Naples • Cost: $12 • Details: 239-2524000,


« cover story (continued)

Charlotte County

Festival of Lights View more than a million lights and themed decorations. There’ll also be visits with Santa, Christmas carolers, and a variety of music. You can also take a Christmas Light Canal Cruise via King Fisher Fleet,

• When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday- Saturday, noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, now through December 31 (except Christmas Eve after 5 p.m. and Christmas Day, December 25). Santa visits on weekends through December 15, then daily through December 22 (visit for exact times). • Where: Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda • Cost: Free (cruises are $20 for adults, $10 for ages 3-11) • Details: 941-639-8721,

Menorah Lighting Celebrate Hanukkah with the lighting of the menorah at the main entrance of Fishermen’s Village. Each night of Hanukkah, an additional candle is lit.

• When: 7 p.m. Saturday, December 28 (the seventh night of Hanukkah) • Where: Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda • Cost: Free • Details: 941-639-8721, fishville. com

Fishermen’s Village New Year’s Eve This is billed as a family-friendly New Year’s Eve. The event includes music, dancing, face painting, hair glitter, LED juggling, plate spinning, balloon creations and fireworks at midnight.

• When: 6 p.m. Tuesday,


December 31; fireworks at midnight • Where: Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda • Cost: Free • Details: 941-639-8721,

Boat Parades Fort Myers Beach Christmas Boat Parade About 40 boats are expected at the 31st annual parade. Jacki Liszak, president and CEO of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, is excited to have a new addition this year. “We will be having a World War II veteran on board our Chamber boat, and he will be our grand marshal,” she says. “He is the father of one of our town councilmen.” For the second time, the boats will judge the restaurants and homes and the homes and restaurants will judge the boats. Complete map available on the Chamber’s website.

• When: 6-8 p.m. Saturday, December 7 • Where: The

parade begins at Salty Sam’s Marina and passes by Parrot Key Caribbean Grill, Matanzas on the Bay, Nervous Nellie’s, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, Dixie Fish Co., the Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill and Bonita Bill’s Waterfront Cafe. It also runs past the Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, Moss Marina and Matanzas Inn. • Details: 239-454-7500, christmas-boat-parade

Bonita Springs Christmas Boat Parade About 50 vessels are expected in the 34th annual Imperial River boat

parade this year. “It is getting bigger and bigger every year,” says Adam Botana, owner of Bay Water Boat Club and organizer of the parade. Adam plans to put five of his boats in the event. “It is like when I was a kid on Christmas morning; this is the same thing for me now,” he says.

• When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday, December 14 • Where: Begins and ends at Bay Water Boat Club, 5124 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. Goes up the Imperial River to Flossmor Drive and then comes back. The best place to see it is from the Imperial River Boat Ramp, 27551 S. Tamiami Trail, or from the bridge. • Details: or Bonita Springs Christmas Boat Parade on Facebook.

Christmas Boat Parade on Naples Bay The 32nd annual Christmas Boat Parade on Naples Bay features a “Great Christmas Movies” theme. “I am assuming there will be a lot of Griswalds, the Grinch, Miracle on 34th Street and A Christmas Story,” says Tiffany Sawyer-Schank, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of Collier County. About 25 to 30 boats typically participate in the parade, which is free to enter. There are lots of prizes for the winners.

• When: 6:15 p.m. Saturday, December 14 • Where: The parade may be viewed from Pinchers Crab Shack, Riverwalk Restaurant, Naples City Dock (this location hosts the judges and VIP guests), Naples Landings, Kelly’s Fish House, The Boat House Restaurant and Bayview Park.

All proceeds benefit the Ricky King Children’s Fund. • Details: 239-682-0900,

Cape Coral Holiday Boat-A-Long Cape Coral’s 43rd annual Holiday Boat-A-Long features a parade of more than 100 decorated boats. The parade is followed by a free movie in the park, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” There will be food, holiday music and a visit from Santa.

• When: The festival begins at 4 p.m. Saturday, December 21. The boat parade starts at sundown, which is around 7 p.m. • Where: The best place to view is Four Freedom’s Park, 4818 Tarpon Court, Cape Coral, where the holiday festival takes place. The boats can be seen in the Bimini Basin lining up for the event and along the canals in south Cape Coral. • Cost: Free; there’s also free parking in downtown lots with a free shuttle service to the park • Details: 239-573-3123,

The Saturday Night Before Christmas Eve Boat Parade This parade, in its 19th year, attracts 15,000 to 20,000 spectators

and is billed as the Biggest Annual Event in the Isles. The 4.5-mile route is lined with people ringing cowbells and banging on tambourines. The cheering crowds are only 50 feet from the lighted boats, giving spectators an excellent view of the decorations. Besides decorations, the boats have carolers and performers. About 35 to 50 boats participate in the event.

• When: 6 p.m. Saturday, December 21 • Where: Viewing available from Yellowfish Lagoon, past Antigua Drive, Ponce Inlet around to Almar Drive. • Details:



safety corner »


CAN HURT Follow these safety tips to have a happy, injury-free holiday.


he holiday season is here and for many of us that means one thing: TOYS. About half of all toy purchases in the United States occur between the Friday after Thanksgiving and December 25. While adults are on a mad dash to scoop up the hottest toy of the season, we encourage everyone to keep toy safety at the top of the list. More than 477 children a day are taken to the emergency room for toyrelated injuries. In 2016, an estimated 174,100 children ages 15 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for toy-related injuries. Almost half of those injuries were to children younger than 5. Here are a few toy safety tips to keep in mind: » Consider your child’s age when purchasing a toy or game. It’s worth

a second to read the instructions and warning labels to make sure it’s right for your child. » Keep a special eye on small game pieces that may be a choking hazard for young children. While

these kinds of games are great for older kids, they can pose a potential danger for younger, curious siblings. » After play time is over, use a bin or container to store toys for next time. Make sure there are no holes or

hinges that could catch little fingers. » Keep coin lithium batterycontrolled devices out of sight and reach of children. These include re-

mote controls, singing greeting cards, digital scales, watches, hearing aids, thermometers, children’s toys, calculators, key fobs, tea-light candles, flashing holiday jewelry or decorations. » Don’t forget a helmet for riding toys. Helmets should be used with

Brenda Hernandez, a child advocate at Lee Health, writes on behalf of Safe Kids Southwest Florida.

riding toys such as bikes, skateboards, scooters and roller skates. » Stay informed about harmful products in the marketplace. Stay up to date on toy recalls. Safe Kids makes it easy for you by sending an e-mail alert twice a month. Parents can sign up at, or go to for additional information about product recalls related to kids. If secondhand toys are purchased or received from friends or relatives, visit and make sure the toy hasn’t been recalled for safety reasons. If possible, used toys should also be in good condition with all original parts and packaging. If a new toy comes with a product registration card, it is helpful for parents to mail it in, so the manufacturer can contact them if the item is ever recalled. To learn more toy safety tips, visit

Safe Kids is a nonprofit coalition of agencies and organizations dedicated to eliminating preventable childhood injuries. Visit


SEE WHAT I MEAN? » Southwest Florida photographer Brian Tietz photographed

15 staff members and beneficiaries of the Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center as a project to raise awareness and funding for the center. From left (above), Harper Miller, Ava Toncray, Emma Toncray and Amelia Deese (two are deaf, two are hearing). “They had so much fun,” says Alicia Miller, executive director of the Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center. “In the image, you can’t tell which ones are deaf. It shows that deaf doesn’t have a ‘look.’” The photographs will be exhibited at the center’s January 11 fundraiser and then at the center’s offices. The center also offers a free sign language class on Tuesdays. Photos by Brian Tietz Betty Rodriguez

Alelia Deese and Brenda Lander

Brock Drimones


Alberto Maldonado

family album » SHOWSTOPPERS » Show Troupe dancers from Dance Dimensions of SWFL performed at Kids Fest and Coconut Festival in October. The Show Troupe group features kids ages 7 to 18 who perform jazz, tap, contemporary, hip-hop and lyrical numbers. Dance Dimensions of SWFL is located in Cape Coral and teaches all genres of dance to all ages and ability levels. Photos special to SWFL Parent & Child

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Send your images with a brief description and names of the people in them to

FEED THE NEED » Fort Myers

Christian School held a “food-raising” event called Feed the Need on October 25 to raise money for the school and to provide healthy meals for families in need. Left: Isaac Lima, Averie Williams, Ethan Cole, Shawn Wheeler and Maria Placides. Above: Bella Whan, Bentley Hernandez, Camilla Watkins and Danya Groff. Photos courtesy of Fort Myers Christian School


« family album

READY FOR THE HOLIDAYS » The Tartaglia sisters got ready for the holidays with a fun photo shoot. From left, Alivia, 2, Alissa, 4, and Alexandra, 12. Photo by Val Newell/Ella Photography Naples

NAPLES NEXT » Stacey Vollman Warwick, right,

executive director of NaplesNEXT Ideas Festival, presented Dawn Montecalvo, back, president of Guadalupe Center, a grant that will enhance educational programs for the students. Pictured with them are students in Guadalupe Center’s Early Childhood Education Program in Immokalee. Special to SW FL Parent & Child


SIGNATURE MOMENTS » March of Dimes Southwest

Florida hosted its annual Signature Chefs Auction, presented by the Higdon Group, on October 24. More than 300 guests helped raise $450,000 for the health of moms and babies. The Signature Chefs Auction ambassador Family, Ashley and Jason Goss, shared their story and how March of Dimes-funded research helped their family. Special to SW FL Parent & Child

PRO ON THE PIANO » Elementary and middle school students at Veterans Park Academy for the Arts in Lehigh Acres got to hear a world-class pianist October 30 when Thomas Pandolfi of Washington, D.C., performed a private concert and interactive program for the students in the school cafetorium. Photos special to SWFL Parent & Child


Everglades Wonder Gardens opened its new Ernie & Sandie Schaub Butterfly and Orchid Pavilion with a ribbon-cutting event in October. Here, Ernie and Sandi Schaub cut the ribbon to the new pavilion. Courtesy of Everglades Wonder Gardens


family album »

SHINE FOR KIDS » More than 250 Southwest Floridians with a passion for supporting children and families attended Shine, raising $440,000 to benefit Hope Kids Care on October 11 at the historic Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers. Here, the Hope Shine Committee: BJ Brundage, Stacey Adams, Lillian Canfield, Noelle Branning, Amy Thibaut, Jenna Persons, Samira Beckwith, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Rachel Busch, Vanessa Pena and Laurie Moore. Photo special to SW FL Parent & Child

THROUGH THEIR EYES » Veterans and kids celebrate the publication of “Through Their Eyes: The Community School of Naples Veterans Project” on November 10. Over the course of a year, to honor local veterans, students met with the veterans, painted their portraits and interviewed them for accompanying biographies. Their work is featured in the book. From left: Veteran Jack McCarthy with teacher Jimmi Stevens. Veteran Joe Mulgado with Zelda, his emotional support dog. Student D.J with veteran Paul Capobianco. Gerta and Bill Dismukes. Photo courtesy of Community School of Naples


travel »

Luau at Aulani



Like Southwest Florida, the islands celebrate the holidays with lots of décor, surfing Santas and tremendous island fun. BY JENNIFER THOMAS ’m dreaming of a green and bright Christmas with palm trees swaying. Living in Florida, we are used to seeing palm trees lit up with Christmas lights and fake snowfalls at festivals, while others travel to Hawaii to escape their frigid temperatures. My family took advantage of the Christmas break a few years back to have an island Christmas in Hawaii. While the weather is very comparable to Southwest Florida in December, it was fun to experience Christmas with a Mele Kalikimaka flair — the way to say Merry Christmas in Hawaii. It’s also a popular Christmas song, with versions by Bing Crosby, Bette Midler, Don Ho and others.


« travel (continued)

During the holidays in Hawaii, don’t be surprised if you see Santa without his reindeer. Santa has been known to surf his way to shore aboard an outrigger canoe, where he greets the keiki (children) and hands out gifts on the beach at several locations, including the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort and Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki (Oahu) and the Makena Golf and Beach Club on Maui, according to the Hawaii Tourism Authority at There is no shortage of Christmas decorations on the island. In fact, those who are interested in a traditional Christmas tree can venture to Helemano Farms on Oahu’s North Shore, where they grow Norfolk pine trees. Of course, you may opt to decorate small palm trees instead. When we embarked on our island Christmas journey, we opted to explore a few parts of the main island — Oahu. We stayed at an oceanfront Marriott Vacation Club property first and it did not disappoint with the Hawaiian cultural activities — especially a luaustyle event with islanders climbing the giant palm trees to retrieve coconuts and share them with the guests. Then we moved to Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa, which hands down has been a top three favorite of ours in all our travels. This resort is perfectly positioned on 21 beautiful oceanfront acres in Ko Olina on the leeward coast of Oahu. The resorts are decked out in their holiday best, and at the Disney property, the characters are in Hawaiian holiday attire. Several themed events are offered, too, including Cocoa and Cookies on Christmas Eve, caroling, and special holiday dining experiences. To bring an added bit of Christmas cheer to our room at Aulani, we stopped at the local Target and purchased a small Christmas tree, ornaments and decorations to make our vacation feel more like home. This brought a lot of joy to our now 14-yearold daughter Kylie as she decorated the tree and the room.



New Smyrna Museum of History

ning. as mor m t is r h C urfs on Kylie s

Truly, you never have to leave Aulani to have a complete Hawaiian vacation with some added Disney magic. The pool area is beautiful and even has its own Rainbow Reef to allow kids to snorkel privately in their own 3,800-square-foot lagoon without being in the ocean. This is such a great way to introduce snorkeling to the younger guests and to see marine life, including angelfish, butterfly fish and tangs. Guests also enjoy the resort’s 7-acre water play area. The Waikolohe Stream, the resort’s mysterious (yet fun) tubefloating watercourse, enchants guests with bubbling water, a cloaking mist and several hundred feet of additional surprises, according to a Disney news release. For those who love waterslides, Tubestone Curl, the resort’s tube slide, and Volcanic Vertical, Aulani’s tunnel slide, provide thrills galore. The entertainment is nothing short of what you would expect from Disney. We loved the island-themed luau-type show at the resort. There’s a kids’ club, too. Aunty’s Beach House is an interactive kids’

club that offers children ages 3 to 12 complimentary activities, entertainment and games that explore the mysteries of Hawaii — from Hawaiian storytelling to Keiki Hula lessons. If you’ve been to Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Magic Kingdom or partaken in a character dining experience, just wait, as you can now have your children (girls and boys ages 3 to 12) undergo a Hawaiian makeover at the newly designed Painted Sky: HI Style Studio. Just think Moana and Maui. While characters are seen throughout the property and at breakfast, there is a new character dining experience for dinner, too. Aulani introduces “Menehune Mischief,” a lively dinner show at the resort’s Makahiki restaurant. The show celebrates the story of the Menehune — the magical little people of Hawaiian legend — with the help of Aulani’s beloved Uncle and favorite Disney characters. The delightful tales are brought to life through music, sing-along fun and storytelling — all while guests enjoy a delicious buffet dinner.

travel (continued) » Aulani Ponce De Leon Light house, Florida Edge Water

“Dining with characters is a signature experience at Disney resorts around the world,” says Timothy Gustie, food and beverage director at Aulani. “Our guests have enjoyed starting their day with delicious food and Disney fun during breakfast at Makahiki. We are excited to offer a new twist for dinner at the restaurant with ‘Menehune Mischief.’” Finally, we ended our stay in downtown Waikiki at a Sheraton oceanfront property. What we loved here was their Christmas light show in the pool area — very festive and creative. During the day we would go on excursions to experience the local culture. We hiked Diamond Head, which is the top of an iconic volcanic crater. Here the panoramic views from the top were spectacular. For a reward after the descent, we treated ourselves to authentic Hawaiian shaved ice. We also toured the North Shore twice, which is known for its surfing. We loved this area of the island and were just mesmerized by the height of the waves and the surf. If you are there early enough in De-

cember, you might be able to catch three surfing competitions: the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, a trio of professional competitions on Oahu’s North Shore, where the World Surf League crowns its world champion. In 2019, the competitions were scheduled to take place between November 13 and December 20 at Haleiwa Alii Beach Park, Sunset Beach and Ehukai Beach Park (aka the Banzai Pipeline). A trip to the “country,” as locals would say, is a must-do on Oahu. While there are several routes to get there, the tourism authority recommends visitors hop on the H3 freeway for grand views of the lush green Koolau mountains. Continue north on Kamehameha Highway and keep an eye on the shoreline, just steps from your car, for views of Mokolii Island near Kualoa and the white sand beaches along the way. Another favorite activity during our trip was driving to a nature area where we hiked and swam under a waterfall. On its website, the tourism authority outlines that the Hawaii Forest & Trail recently launched new private, exclu-

sive Oahu tours for up to 12 guests. You can choose to personalize your adventure and do a waterfall swim, beach walk or two great hikes — one of these also incorporating a mountain picnic — within a four-hour minimum tour. Similar to Florida, much of the activities are water-based. We actually spent Christmas morning surfing. Kylie took a private surf lesson and was riding the waves by the end of the lesson. In the marine-filled crystal waters of Hanauma Bay, we also snorkeled. This was a fun experience to pass on to Kylie as both myself and my husband, Bill, have snorkeled here on previous trips pre-Kylie. This protected marine life conservation area is a great beginning snorkeling spot as you snorkel right from the beach and don’t have to go out far to see coral and sea creatures, including Hawaii’s state fish, the humu humu nuku nuku apua’a — also known as a trigger fish. I highly recommend touring the Polynesian Cultural Center, as Bill and I did this when in Tahiti and it is something that really provides an up-close interactive culture and history experience. This month, the center is expected to unveil its new Alii Luau show “Onipaa,” a tribute to Kingdom of Hawaii monarch Queen Liliuokalani. (Onipa‘a is Hawaiian meaning “steadfast.”) Guests will experience a Hawaiian luau “fit for a Queen,” including lei greeting, unveiling of the imu (underground oven) and blessing of the food. Visitors to the center’s Hukilau Marketplace can now grab a bite to eat and get a taste of the Polynesian Cultural Center’s offerings on the new Holoholo canoe ride, a 25-minute guided tour that highlights activities guests can experience at the center’s six island villages, which represent Tonga, Fiji, Aotearoa, Hawaii, Samoa and Tahiti. Whatever you might be wishing for this holiday season, we wish you all Aloha Kalikimaka me ka Hape Nuia — Merry Christmas together with a Happy New Year!


« around town

Harlem Globetrotters ‘push the limits’ at Hertz Arena Basketball should be fun. And when the Harlem Globetrotters are on the court, it’s a sure thing. Fancy moves, spinning balls on fingertips and crazy antics are their specialties. The team’s “Pushing the Limits” World Tour comes to Hertz Arena in Estero on Thursday, December 12 at 7 p.m. There’ll be a live world record attempt, glow-in-the-dark performances, celebration of the four-point shot (you’ll see) and, new this year, The Fifth Quarter, a free interactive post-game autograph session where you can meet the Globetrotters, like Cheese Chisholm, TNT Lister, Torch George, Big Easy Lofton and Hammer Harrison. Tickets start at about $38 (once you count the online fees); there’s also a Magic Pass upgrade for a pre-game event where you can shoot some hoops with the stars and learn new tricks before the big show. Parking is $10. Get details at and

New monthly event brings kid-friendly fun to Bonita Shangri-La Springs is starting a series of free, creative and kid-friendly events. The monthly Art & Soul Community Nights start Wednesday, December 11 with live music, art exhibits, free mini spa treatments, food from the garden-to-table restaurant Harvest & Wisdom and special guests from 6 to 9 p.m. This month’s event has a holiday theme. January 8 is “All Jazzed Up,” February 12 is “Movie Madness,” March 11 “Feelin’ Groovy,” and April 15 features Bonita schools’ art and music. Shangri-La Springs is at 27750 Old 41 Road in Bonita Springs. Get details at 239-9490749 or


Camp out at Rookery Bay in Naples The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve in Naples hosts Junior Campout at Rookery Bay for ages 10-16 on December 21-22. Parents drop off the kids at 4:30 p.m. on the 21st and pick them up at 8 a.m. on the 22nd. The kids learn outdoor skills and gain an appreciation for the environment at this non-campfire campout. Bring your gear. Pizza and light snacks are provided. Registration required; sign up at

Gimme a break! Get your kids out of the house and let winter camp programs entertain them while you work or take some much-deserved “me time” over schools’ long winter break. The Naples Girls Softball Winter Clinics take place December 30 and 31 at Cambier Park in Naples. Times and prices ($35-$100) vary depending on the clinic. Sanibel Sea School offers weeklong camps for ages 6-13, plus there’s a Counselor in Training program for teens. Cost is $320 and $210 (scholarships available). The Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Fort Myers offers science-based and creative day-camp options ($90 for members, $100 for nonmembers). Get details on Camp organizers are welcome to add their events at

calendar »


Sunday, Dec. 1 “A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play” » Through December 25. Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. The classic holiday story is told as a 1940s radio broadcast complete with vintage commercials, live sound effects and musical underscoring. Tickets are $42-$62 with discounts available for children and large groups. 239-2784422. Holiday Nights » 6-9 p.m. Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 2350 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. A tree lighting ceremony kicks off the holiday festivities at the Estates. New this year, the large Mysore fig tree will be lit with thousands of animated lights choreographed to music. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there the first night and every Sunday night, 6-8 p.m., until Christmas. The Children’s Tree Trail features 60 trees decorated by Lee County children. Live music and other entertainment continue nightly throughout the holiday season. Tickets are $20 for ages 20 and older, $10 for ages 13-19 and $2 for ages 6-12 (free for members and ages 5 and younger). Guided tours are an additional fee. Lee County residents get $5 off Mondays and Tuesdays. Get a full schedule at Night Lights in the Garden » 6-9 p.m. November 29-January 5. Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples. The gardens are lit for the holidays and local artists perform. (No Night Lights festivities December 24, 25 or 31.) Tickets November 29-December 15 are $12 for members, $25 for nonmembers, $6/ $12 for ages 4-14, free for ages 3 and younger. Prices increase December 16. 239-325-1354.


Celebrating Since 1951

All Ages

Classical Ballet Pointe Tap Jazz Hip Hop Modern Acrobatics Children’s Work

(239)334-3274 NEWBORN CARE

Photos with Santa » 10 a.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Receive a free photo with Santa. Every day until December 23. Santa at Fishermen’s Village » 1-5 p.m. and other select times through December 22. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. Visit with Santa 1-5 p.m. December 1, 7, 8 and 15; 3-7 p.m. December 6, 13 and 14; 3-6 p.m. December 16-18; 3-5 p.m. December 19; 1-6 p.m. December 20-22. The Village is also lit up for the holidays this month.


Santa’s Wonderland at Bass Pro Shops » Through December 24. Bass Pro Shop, 10040 Gulf Center Drive, Fort Myers. Free. Free 4x6 photo with Santa and free family holiday activities, including crafts and games. Guests can reserve a spot in line for Santa with the free Bass Pass system. Visit the Bass Pass Ticket Depot at the entrance of Santa’s Wonderland to pick up a time-stamped pass. Full schedule at “Sounds of Christmas” » Through December 25. Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. The main stage show is a family-friendly production full of Christmas songs, dancing, dazzling costumes and a visit from Santa Claus. For show only, tickets are $26 for children, $48 for adults. For dinner and show, $30 for children, $63-$73 for adults. 239278-4422.

Tuesday, Dec. 3 “The Elves and the Shoemaker” » November 29-December 24. Broadway Palm, 1380 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. A musical adaptation of the popular children’s story that imbues the lesson of the Golden Rule. $19 for all ages, includes


« calendar buffet. Lunch is at noon and show at 1 p.m. November 29 and December 8, 14, 20, 22 and 24, and at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. December 3, 6, 12, 13 and 17. 239-278-4422. Wading Trips in Estero Bay Aquatic Preserve » 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Bayside of Black Island, north of Lovers Key State Park, Fort Myers Beach. Join environmental specialists for an upclose experience with the waters and wildlife of the bay. $5 donation to Ester Bay Buddies; free for children younger than 5. Registration required. Additional wading trips: 9-11 a.m. January 7, February 4, March 3, April 7 and May 12. Wear closed-toe shoes that can get wet. 239-530-1003 or

Thursday, Dec. 5 International Volunteer Day » 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower, Naples. Get buyone-get-one free admission and recognize the volunteers who offer their time and talent to Rookery Bay each day. Walk Through Bethlehem » 5:30-9 p.m. December 5 and 6. Sanibel Community Church, 1740 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Walk the streets of the ancient town of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’ birth. Experience a living re-creation of a busy marketplace with shopkeepers, beggars and Roman guards. Free.

Friday, Dec. 6 Festival of Trees » December 6-8. Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers. Experience beautiful trees decorated by local businesses to raise money for Goodwill of Southwest Florida and the art center. New this year: ice skating among the trees. Hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m. December 6 and 7 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. December 8. Admission to see the trees is $2 for ages 12 and older, free for those younger; skating is $8 for ages 12 and older, $5 for ages 3-11. During the Holiday Stroll on December 6, follow the mayor and Santa down First Street to the art center to light the giant wreath, followed by a concert at 7 p.m. Then December 7 is Santa’s Block Party, and the Children’s Holiday Workshop ($6) takes place December 7 and 8, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free Autism Screening » 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida partners with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southwest Florida to offer free monthly autism spectrum disorder screenings for children from 18 months to 5 years old. Physician referral not required. Schedule a screening at 239-343-6838. Jingle Bell Bash » 6-8 p.m. Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples, 15080 Livingston Road, Naples. Tree lighting, snacks, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, activities and a few winter surprises. $10 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Santa at the Shell Factory » Select days and times through December 22. Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. Free. Bring the kids and the dog to get photos taken with Santa. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. December 6, 10 a.m.-noon December 8, 15, 21 and 22, and 10-11:30 a.m. December 14.


Storytime and Activities Featuring “The Polar Express” » 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. Come in your PJs and join in a magical evening and story time for the holiday classic “The Polar Express.” Hot chocolate and cookies to follow (Cafe stores only). The Sanibel Luminary Festival » 5:30-9 p.m. Sanibel Sea School, 455 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Festive snacks and refreshments, cookie decorating, s’more roasting, a screening of “Artifishal,” tours of the updated building, games for all ages. 239-472-8585.

Saturday, Dec. 7 “A Magical Cirque Christmas” » 8 p.m. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers. Experience Christmas with cirque artists and holiday music. $39-$129. Book Signing: “The Adventures of LadyCakes: Kindness is Sweet” » 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Williams Sonoma, 13499 S. Cleveland Ave., Fort Myers. Free. LadyCakes Bakery owner Bess Charles signs copies of her new children’s book. Christmas Cookie Decorating » Noon-2 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Free. Kids can stop by the WARO-FM 94.5 cookie decorating station near WINK Playland for a special holiday treat they make and eat. Endless Trails Holiday Mini Horses » Noon-2 p.m. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Free. Keep an eye out for the holiday mini horses roaming the mall handing out candy canes to everyone on Santa’s Nice List. Fandom Fest » Noon-5 p.m. Fort Myers Regional Library, 2450 First St., Fort Myers. A free celebration of fandoms and geek culture for teens and young adults. Headliners include Mega Ran, Tampa Taiko, MC Lars and Geekapella. Activities include a cosplay fashion show, live music and entertainment, gaming, climbing by Mobile Rock Adventures, photo ops, games, crafts, virtual reality and tech, card trading, food trucks and vendors. Holiday Maker Fest » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Michaels stores. Choose from a variety of projects: a holiday hoop wreath (participant buys wreath), a floral mason jar (free), Christmas tree T-shirt (free), gingerbread house making (participant buys Wilton gingerbread house kit) and a gingerbread house bell (free, for ages 3 and older). Old-Fashioned Holiday Bazaar » 8 a.m.-1 p.m. December 7 and 8. Koreshan State Park, 3800 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Arts and crafts vendors, food vendors, kids’ games, Santa (9 a.m.-noon), story time with a librarian, music and more. Toy drive to benefit Lutheran Services of Florida. Included with park admission of $5 per vehicle. Pictures with Santa » 3-6 p.m., Palm City Brewing, 7887 Drew Circle, Suite 130, Fort Myers. Free pictures with Santa plus activities for the kids while they wait. events/969139160116791/ River Run » 8 a.m. Downtown Fort Myers at Hendry

calendar » Street and Edwards Drive. Registration begins at 7 a.m., 10K run/walk and 2-mile walk at 8 a.m. Proceeds benefit Gigi’s Playhouse. There’ll also be a collection for Toys for Tots. Plus, get photos with Santa and his elf before and after the race. Rookery Bay’s Science Saturdays » 9 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday. Rookery Bay NERR and Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples. Unleash your inner scientist or marine biologist with hands-on discoveries for all ages. Includes eco-crafts, a presentation, featured film and “Lessons in Laboratories” program (11 a.m.). $5 for adults, free for ages 12 and younger. Santa Fest » 3-9 p.m., Wa-Ke Hatchee Recreation Center, 16760 Bass Road, south Fort Myers. Food truck vendors, games, bounce houses, face painting and a free movie in the park with special guest Santa. Photos with Santa are 4-6 p.m. Toy donations for Golisano’s Children Hospital encouraged, but not mandatory. events/553692748533742 Santa’s Block Party » 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers. Part of the Festival of Trees, where trees are decorated for the holidays by local businesses, and there’s a synthetic ice skating rink. The block party has numerous children’s activities and entertainment, plus a Children’s Holiday Workshop ($6) where kids make a variety of projects. Admission to the Festival of Trees is $2 for ages 12 and older. Skating is $8 for ages 12 and older, $5 for ages 3-11. Santa arrives at 11 a.m. Snowfest 2019 » 3-9 p.m. Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples. A hundred tons of snow, inflatable slides, snow slide, Santa’s Selfies, rock wall, laser battle, dodge ball arena, carnival games and rides. No alcohol, blankets, chairs, coolers or pets. $2 for ages 4 and older, free for ages 3 and younger.

Sunday, Dec. 8 Baby & Me Storytime Featuring “Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Dinosaur” » 11 a.m., Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. Story time every Sunday for ages 0-2 and their caregivers. Naples Concert Band’s December Concert in the Park » 2-4 p.m., Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples. Under the direction of Harris Lanzel, the Naples Concert Band plays a variety of holiday songs. Free, donations appreciated. 239-270-1221.

kick-off event of this monthly series has a holiday theme and includes harpist Christian Bell, singer and guitarist Douglas Coventry, a free yoga class, outdoor artisan market. Upcoming themes include All Jazzed Up on January 8, Movie Madness on February 12, Feelin’ Groovy on March 11 and Bonita Schools Art & Music on April 15. 239-949-0749. Holiday Gift Making Workshop » 4-8 p.m., Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, 2301 First St., Fort Myers. $30 for art supplies. Create three or four handmade gifts with local artists. All ages welcome. $30. 239-333-1933.

Thursday, Dec. 12 Harlem Globetrotters » 7 p.m. Hertz Arena, 11000 Everblades Parkway, Estero. The Harlem Globetrotters bring their “Pushing the Limits” World Tour to Southwest Florida with a live world record attempt, a glow-in-the-dark performance and lots of stunts and tricks. Tickets start at $23. or

Friday, Dec. 13 Cambier Park Movie Night “Elf” » 6:30-8:30 p.m., Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples. Free. Bring a folding chair or a beach blanket and enjoy the movie on a two-story inflatable screen. One Starry Night Live Nativity » 5-8 p.m. December 13 and 14. Christ United Methodist Church, 1430 Homestead Road N., Lehigh Acres. Free. As you walk through this outdoor event, you register for the census, pay your taxes, play games in the marketplace, visit with Bible characters as they tell the story of the first Christmas, make a craft item and enjoy a snack at the Inn. Handicap and stroller accessible. “The Nutcracker” » 7 p.m., Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers. The North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts celebrates its 10th anniversary performance of “The Nutcracker” ballet. $15-$40. 239-997-2131.

Santa on the Sand » 1-3 p.m. and 2-4 p.m., Lovers Key State Park, 8700 Estero Blvd., Fort Myers Beach. Games, snack and a visit with Santa on the beach of Lovers Key at the gazebo. Cost is park admission plus $5 and one unwrapped toy for each child 8 or younger to be donated to The Children’s Network of Southwest Florida. Reservations required via 239-495-7045.

“The Nightmare Before Christmas” Outdoor Movie Night » 5:30-9 p.m., Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Relive the wonder of Tim Burton’s classic dual-holiday animated dark fantasy. Bring blankets or lawn chairs for first come, first served seating. Come by early and meet Sally and Jack in person, play lawn games or have your face painted by Krafty Kate’s Face Painting Kreations. Costumes encouraged. Food, soda, water and adult beverages available for purchase. No coolers. Tickets are $10 in advance or $30 for four, free for ages 5 and younger, and $15 at the gate. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Movie starts at 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Dec. 11

Saturday, Dec. 14

Art & Soul Community Nights » 6-9 p.m. Shangri-La Springs, 27750 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs. Live music, art exhibits, free mini spa treatments, food from garden-to-table restaurant Harvest & Wisdom, special guests and more. The

A Florida Morning with Santa » 10 a.m.-1 p.m. St. Hilary’s Church, 5011 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Floridastyle Santa, food, drinks, crafts, games and photo op. Ugly sweater contest for the adults at noon. $5. Benefits Boy Scout Troop 117.


« calendar Breakfast with Santa at the Shell Factory » 9 a.m. December 14 and 15. Shell Factory & Nature Park, 2787 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. Join Santa for a pancake breakfast. $4.99 for kids, $8.99 for adults. Reservations required by noon December 11. 239-995-2141 ext. 110. Breakfast with Santa Fundraiser at Applebee’s » 8:30 a.m. Applebee’s locations owned by Doherty Enterprises in Florida and Georgia, including in Fort Myers and Cape Coral. Enjoy breakfast and a photo with Santa. $10. Benefits Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots. Holiday Performance by Bonita Springs Charter School » 6 p.m., Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Free. Support the students from Bonita Springs Charter School as they put on a magical Christmas-themed performance. Holidays Without Hunger Meal Packing Event » 9-11 a.m. and 11 a.m.-1 p.m. North Naples Middle School, 16165 Learning Lane, Naples. Hosted by Meals of Hope, the goal is to pack 1 million meals to be distributed through schools, food pantries and food banks. Register to volunteer. 239-5377775.

YMCA Kid’s Night Out » 5-10 p.m. second Saturday of each month through May. Greater Naples YMCA, 5450 YMCA Road, Naples. Parents enjoy a night out while the kids have fun at the YMCA. For ages 6 months to 12 years old. $20 for members, $35 for guests. Dinner included. Registration required.

Sunday, Dec. 15 Holidays Around the World » 2-8 p.m. December 15 and 22. History Park of Punta Gorda, 501 Shreve St., Punta Gorda. Cultural holiday decorations in the historic houses, cultural food and kids crafts. Kids’ activities end at 5 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 17 Christmas Carol Sing » 1, 4 and 7 p.m. First Presbyterian Church, 2438 Second St., Fort Myers. Free; nonperishable food or cash donation requested. Gaither Homecoming soloist and Grammy Award-winning Larry Ford to make a special guest appearance. Children are welcome, and Santa is expected to visit. Doors open 30 minutes prior to each show time. 239-334-2261.

Wednesday, Dec. 18 Moms Appreciation Day » 10 a.m.-noon. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Enjoy a little mom time courtesy of le macaron french pastries while the kids attend Kids Crafts.

Thursday, Dec. 19

Holiday Science Kids Cruise » 10-11:30 a.m., Pure Florida Naples at Tin City, 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. Kids 12 and younger cruise free with paid adult admission of $42. Additional child cruises for $21. Features a science show by Glen Beitmen of Super Science & Amazing Art. 239-2634949. Holiday Maker Fest » 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Michaels stores. Choose from two projects: a festive Christmas T-shirt (participant buys the T-shirt) or reindeer antlers (free, for ages 3 and older). Santa at Zoomers » 1-3 p.m. Zoomers, 17455 Summerlin Road, Fort Myers. Free. Take a free photo with Santa at Zoomers. Plus, wristbands are $20 all day. 239-481-9666. “The Nutcracker” » 7 p.m., Artis-Naples, 5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples. Naples Ballet performs with the Naples Philharmonic. Tickets start at $19.


“Magic Tree House: A Ghost Tale for Mr. Dickens Jr.” » December 19-22. Centers for the Arts Bonita Springs, Center for Performing Arts, 10150 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs. An adaptation of book No. 44 of Mary Pope Osborne’s award-winning fantasy adventure books from the Magic Tree House series. Shows are 7 p.m. December 19 and 20, 2 and 7 p.m. December 21 and 2 p.m. December 22. Tickets start at $13.50.

Friday, Dec. 20 Celebrate Winter Solstice » 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Rookery Bay NERR and Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower Road, Naples. Celebrate with buy-one-get-one free admission.

Saturday, Dec. 21 Breakfast with Santa at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa » 9-11 a.m., Sundial Beach Resort, 1451 Middle Gulf Drive, Sanibel. Enjoy a seaside breakfast buffet with Santa Claus, decorate sugar cookies and make a seashell ornament with his elves. Santa will be available for photos and each child will receive a special photo frame to take home. $20-$25.

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Junior Campout at Rookery Bay » 4:30 p.m. December 21 to 8 a.m. December 22. Rookery Bay Environmental Learning Center, 300 Tower, Naples. Boys and girls ages 10-16 gain outdoor skills and further their appreciation of nature. Bring camping gear. Pizza and light snacks provided. Storytime and Activities Featuring “Construction Site on Christmas Night” » 11 a.m., Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. It’s Christmas time at your favorite construction site. After the trucks finish their big, important job, they receive their very own Christmas surprise. Activities to follow, plus, get a coupon for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4 (Cafe stores only).

Monday, Dec. 23 Lindsey Stirling: Warmer in the Winter Christmas Tour » 7:30 p.m. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall at FSW, 13350 FSW Parkway, south Fort Myers. Award-winning electronic violinist Lindsey Stirling wraps up her Christmas tour in Fort Myers. $39.50-$129.50. 239-481-4849.

Tuesday, Dec. 24 Santa’s Dolphin & Wildlife Cruise » 9, 10, 10:45 and 11:30 a.m. Adventures in Paradise Inc., 14341 Port Comfort Road, Fort Myers. $45 per adult, $35 per child. Visit with Santa on his last day of vacation before he flies out on Christmas Eve. Where is Santa on his last day before flying out? On a deserted island in the waters surrounding Fort Myers and Sanibel Island where he’ll be waiting with small gifts for the kids. Free photos with Santa. Reservations required. 239-472-8443.

Thursday, Dec. 26

Saturday, Dec. 28 Family Art Labs » 10 a.m., fourth Saturday of each month. Alliance for the Arts, 10091 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Free, hands-on family fun. Explore something new every month. Recommended for ages 5 and older, but all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate. Kids Day » 10 a.m.-noon. Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Toddlers to 12-year-olds do fun activities and receive free pizza, ice cream and face painting. Menorah Lighting » 7 p.m. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. On the seventh night of Hanukkah, join Rabbi Jacobson of Chabad of Charlotte County in lighting the candles of the menorah. Children will receive Hanukkah treats. There will also be a performance by The Junior Jacappelia. 941-833-3381. and Opt Outside Community Beach Walk » 9-11 a.m. Sanibel Sea School, 455 Periwinkle Way, Sanibel. Opt Outside is a movement founded by the outdoor company REI as an alternative to Black Friday. Instead of offering sales, the store closes on Black Friday and encourages people to go outside. In the spirit of that movement, Sanibel Sea School offers a free guided walk once a month through May. Registration required online at 239-472-8585. Storytime and Activities Featuring “The Kindness Book” » 11 a.m., Barnes & Noble at Coconut Point, 23130 Fashion Drive, Estero. No matter what other people choose to do, you can always choose to be kind. This book is the perfect introduction to a timely and timeless topic. Activities to follow, plus, get a coupon for a grilled cheese sandwich with milk or juice for $4 (Cafe stores only).

School Break Camp: Forces of Flight » 9 a.m.-4 p.m. December 26 and 27. Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 3583 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Focuses on the physics and design of airborne objects. $90 for members, $100 for nonmembers. 239-334-7419.

Sunday, Dec. 29

Friday, Dec. 27

Chanukah Music & Food Festival » 3:30-5:30 p.m. Chabad Jewish Center, 24611 Production Circle, Bonita

“Amahl and the Night Visitors” » December 27-29 at three locations. Presented by Gulfshore Opera, this American folk opera is a miracle story of the Magi for the whole family. At 7 p.m. December 27: St. Leo Parish Life Center, 28290 Beaumont Road, Bonita Springs; $10 for students, $35 for general admission, $50 for premium seating and meet-theartists reception. At 7 p.m. December 28: Salvation Army of Naples Chapel, 3180 Estey Ave., Naples; $10 for students, $25 for general admission, $50 for premium. At 4 p.m. December 29: Congregational United Church of Christ, 1201 Aqui Esta Drive, Punta Gorda; $10 for students, $25 for general admission, $35 for premium.

Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” » Noon, 4 and 8 p.m. Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall, 13350 FSW Parkway, Fort Myers. For all ages. 800-440-7469.


« calendar

Springs. Free concert and entertainment. Lighting of Bonita’s largest menorah. Rides for children (fees vary). Crafts for all ages. Make your own pickles. Photo op with Western Wall replica. Food for sale includes hot latkes, donuts, falafel, shawarma, deli sandwiches and matza ball soup. Ribbon cutting for new Jewish Center at 4:30 p.m. 239-949-6900 or

Monday, Dec. 30 School Break Camp: 3D Printing and Design » 9 a.m.-4 p.m. December 30 and 31, and January 2 and 3. Edison and Ford Winter Estates, 3583 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers. Take part in creative 3-D design challenges. $90 for members, $100 for nonmembers. 239-334-7419. Naples Girls Softball Winter Clinics » December 30-31. Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples. Offers specific skill instruction for pitchers and catchers as well as hitting and defense. Your athlete can pick a specific clinic or participate in a full day and a half of instruction. Price starts at $35, varies by clinic.

Tuesday, Dec. 31 Fishermen’s Village New Year’s Eve » 6 p.m. Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda. A familyfriendly New Year’s Eve with music, dancing, face painting, hair glitter, LED juggling, plate spinning, balloon creations and fireworks at midnight. Free. 941-639-8721. New Year’s Eve Cruise in Fort Myers » 4:30-6 p.m., The Marina at Edison Ford, 2360 W. First St., Fort Myers. $35 for adults, $17.50 for children. Cruise along the Caloosahatchee River at sunset and listen to an historical and ecological narration of local waterways and the environment. Return just time for the Downtown Countdown New Year’s Eve Celebration. Reservations required. 239-263-4949. New Year’s Eve Cruise in Naples » 6-9 p.m., Pure Naples at Tin City, 1200 Fifth Ave. S., Naples. $115 per person. Dinner, refreshments, music and narration from Pure Florida’s captain, followed by the fireworks show from the Naples Pier. 239-263-4949.

New Year’s Eve Fireworks » 7 p.m. Naples Pier. Fireworks soar in the sky over the Gulf of Mexico in Naples. Free. 239-213-7120.

Saturday, Jan. 4 Naples New Year’s Art Show » 10 a.m.-5 p.m. January 4 and 5. Fifth Avenue South, Naples. See the works of 250 professional artists from around the country. There’s also music, a Kid’s Zone, food and refreshments. Hot Works Estero Fine Art Show » 10 a.m.-5 p.m. January 4 and 5. JetBlue Park, 11500 Fenway South Drive, Fort Myers. Free admission and parking; optional $5 donation supports Institute for the Arts & Education. There’s also the Youth Art Competition for grades K-8 or ages 5-13.

Saturday, Jan. 11 Bonita Springs National Art Festival » 10 a.m.-5 p.m. January 11 and 12. Riverside Park, 10451 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs. Cape Coral Arts & Music Festival » 10 a.m.-9 p.m. January 11 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. January 12. Cape Coral Parkway between Del Prado Boulevard and Southeast 10th Place and north to Southeast 47th Terrace. In addition to some 300 exhibitors, this juried art show hosted by the Rotary Club of Cape Coral also has live music, food vendors and a marketplace. Free admission and parking. Naples Children’s Business Fair » 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Gulf Coast High School, 7878 Shark Way, Naples. Opportunity for entrepreneurs ages 6-17 to showcase and sell their product or service to the public.

Sunday, Jan. 12 Naples Veg Fest 2020 » 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. Find local sources of eco-friendly and cruelty-free products. Features expert speakers, cooking demos, vendors and animal rescues, entertainment and activities for the whole family.

Visit for more events. 56 » DECEMBER 2019 » SWFLPARENTCHILD.COM

voices »

Sandra Villamizar is the founder of Fridays for Future Naples, Florida (on Facebook: @fffnaplesfl, on Instagram: @fridaysforfuture.naplesfl and @sandraheartbeat). A 2019 graduate of Barron Collier High School, she studies business at Miami Dade College.

Why kids strike

Naples student and founder of Fridays for Future Naples, Sandra Villamizar explains why local students and adults are joining the strike for climate action.


ridays for Future is a worldwide movement started by Greta Thunberg in Sweden to strike for the climate crisis. Naples has a new chapter now! We are striking for the climate because there is no time left to waste. We are in a climate and ecological emergency. We are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction. And we need politicians to act now. We have only 11 years left to prevent irreversible damage to our climate. We have to begin a transition to a 100% renewable energy. Striking for the climate is very important for me because I know that I won’t die because of my old age but because of climate change. I know that in 50 years the planet will be in horrible conditions for us to live in. I don’t even want to have children because I don’t want to bring another living being on this earth without making sure she/he will have a safe future. I don’t want a future where I am telling kids stories about how cool going to the beach was, how amazing the water in the rivers used to be, how huge jungles could be, how beautiful and innocent animals used to be, and not be able to let them live that experience themselves because outside the air is too polluted, we can’t get close to the water anymore, and animals are extinct and we are in a surviving situation. We, young people, are scared, because

we don’t know. All we know is that adults have failed us, they knew about this 30 years ago and decided to do nothing, because they didn’t care enough, but we won’t fail our generation nor the ones to come. We will be fighting while we still can. Demanding action is important, for all the youth, every newborn that is to come, for the indigenous people and all species on earth, for everyone, because it is about everyone’s future. The people have the power to change. If we all come together to the streets, the impact would be much higher, and we would be able to make our voices be heard louder, and our politicians would not be able to stay silent, but they would have to take immediate action instead. We need to care about this crisis because manufacturing companies and industries just keep on pumping excess amounts of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere knowingly killing us, and no one else is doing something to stop them. I am one of many young people fighting for our future, for a future with no pollution, a future where animals coexist with us, a future without injustice, a future where we care about indigenous communities and low-class communities, a future where we can all live happy; but the system we live on is letting monopolized industries destroy it and take away from us our time on this planet just for money.

The United Nations, with the IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), told us to act. NASA did so, too. Almost all scientists in the world agree that humans are causing this climate breakdown, therefore we are the ones who need to stop it. I strike because I care! Strike because animals are being burnt alive in the fires in the Amazon rainforest, Australia and many others, for meat, dairy and fossil fuel industries. Strike because our governments move with such painful slowness, treating climate change as a belief, when it is a fact. And the big banks continue to lend hundreds of billions to the fossil fuel industry — people are literally trying to get rich off the destruction of the planet. Strike because forests now seem like fires waiting to happen. What we do this decade will matter for hundreds of thousands of years. Strike because indigenous people around the world are trying to protect their rightful land from the animal agriculture, the coal and oil companies. Strike so you can look at the youngest generation in the eye and say, I care for you! Join our Global Climate Strike on December 6 in Naples. And stay tuned for the next ones on our social media pages, on Facebook (@fffnaplesfl) and Instagram (@fridaysforfuture.naplesfl).


» last look

AVIATION DAY Everett Beasley, 3, plays with a model airplane while he holds hands with his dad, Chris Beasley, during Aviation Day at Page Field in Fort Myers on Saturday, November 16.




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SWFL Parent & Child 2019  

SWFL Parent & Child 2019