Punta Gorda Florida Today

Serving the Community of Punta Gorda, FL

Charlotte Harbor Rotary Club Meeting 3/13/12

Rotary Clubs serve our society with a mission statement consisting of advancing good will, support of education, world understanding, peace via means of improving health, and the alleviation of poverty. The Rotary organization can be found worldwide with 33,976 clubs and over 1.22 million members. The organization carries its self with a motto of service over self, all clubs typically meet for a weekly breakfast, lunch, or dinner where members of each club brainstorm and organize events to serve the community in a friendly and serious atmosphere. Rotarians strive to include the four way test of principles in how they go about their everyday lifes. Even if you are not affiliated with any rotary clubs, it is a very useful tool that you can include in your life to build a better world for you, your loved ones, and the youth of our society.

The Charlotte Harbor Rotary Club meets for their weekly meeting at the Charlotte Cultural Center in Port Charlotte, Florida. Each meeting kicks off at 8:00 AM with an opening of joining in singing the Star Spangled Banner and joining in speaking aloud the invocation (Mission Statement) of the Rotary Organization. They then take a short break for having breakfast together. Don Helt who serves as the Sergeant at Arms then goes around the room collecting happy dollars in which members deposit a dollar for donation which serve the clubs future endeavours in the community and tell the club what there happy for on this day, happy dollars are donated for a variety of reasons typically serving for local sports team winning, good news in ones family or personal relationships, historical dates important to ones self, or past rotary events that were successful. Dollars are also donated for rotary members birthdays or relative birthdays in which the club joins in singing happy birthday to each member and their loved ones led by P.J Fisher.

Breakfast Selections at Charlotte Harbor Rotary Club Morning Meeting on March 13th, 2012

Democratic Club of Charlotte County Chili Cook Off

This past Saturday afternoon saw the Democratic club of Charlotte County holding their annual Chili Cook Off which took place on March 10th, 2012. The event was held at the Bayshore YMCA branch on Retta Esplanade drive in downtown Punta Gorda. The event was staged in the banquet room and saw a very diverse and unique variety of chili entries that included midwestern recipes, vegetarian choices, chicken based chilis, and beef themed entries. The event served as a public forum for camaraderie, floor to voice party direction, and an opportunity to taste chili on a cool spring day in the city of Punta Gorda that saw the doors of the YMCA left open and a cool harbor driven breeze flowing inwards. Atmosphere for the event was provided by disc jockeys and saw participants enjoying themselves throughout the course of the event, a fifty fifty raffle ticket drawing was also held as well as raffle ticket ceremony in which seven different prizes were awarded to raffle ticket holders. An event patron was also surprised with a celebratory birthday singing to him in the honor of special day.

Chili Selections at the Chili Cook Off by the Democratic Club of Charlotte County

Dancing with the Stars in Punta Gorda

The fourth annual Dancing with the Stars in Punta Gorda took place on March 4th, 2012 in downtown Punta Gorda at the Charlotte Harbor Event Center. The event served as a benefit fundraiser for the Arts and Humanities Council of Charlotte County with all proceeds going towards the organization which aids local dance studios, artists, theater projects,and artists. The professional dancers who participated in the event were represented by Florida Dance Workshop and Higher Ground Performing Arts of Port Charlotte, Florida as well as dancers from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio located in Venice. Six local area residents of Charlotte County served as the stars this evening who were made up of individuals in the professional field that ranged from medical practices to politicians and were as follows… Frank Desguin, Donna Barret, Ralph Yankwitt, Jason Green, Maralyn Belliveau, and Stacey Jones who performed dance routines set to music under a wide variety of genres and themes integrating attire, scenery, and props into their acts. The event saw First place being awarded to Jason Green, second place to Ralph Yankwitt, and third place to Frank Desguin. The peoples choice award was awarded to Ralph Yankwitt for his extensive efforts in mixing a short film into his performance while changing his hair style dramatically for the event, in addition to his extensive effort on the dance floor.

Stacey Jones Performing at the 2012 Dancing with Stars of Punta Gorda

2012 Pub Crawl Closing Ceremony

he conclusion of the 2012 Pub Crawl of Punta Gorda came to a close at the Ice House Pub with participants gathering for the closing ceremony hosted by event organizers Mike Colgan and Nick Berry. The closing ceremony began when Mike Colgan stepped up to the microphone and gave his thanks to everyone who participated in the second annual running of the event as well as personal gratitude to individuals who donated canned food items to the Harry Chapin Food Bank, a organization that served as the benefiting charity of the Pub Crawl. Mike and Nick asked for two volunteers to come up the main stage located in the Ice House Dart Table room and invited them to participate in a surprise contest (See Video Below) unwillingly knowing of what they would be getting them selves into, Mike would reveal their fate to them a few minutes later when he brought out two frozen t shirts and the two volunteers know that they would be competing to see who could put the t-shirt on first with only the aid of a warm bucket of water and their hands to thaw the shirt into some what of a maneuverable position to put it on their bodies. Kara of Team Red just barely beat out the anonymous member of Team blue who decided to go by the alias of blue and both participants won gift baskets for competing in the event. Pianist Peggy from Brigid’s Cross also did a brief display of the Fountain of Beer trick (See Video Below) that has earned her equal recognition as an an entertainer as much as her reputation in Brigid’s Cross has seen her enjoy. A best themed hat of the pub crawl was also awarded in the closing ceremony that was judged by crowd reaction to each participant who wore a hat during the event.

Mike then introduced Paul Degaeta (See Video Below) to the audience, an individual infamous in the community for his volunteer work, dedication to the Charlotte High Sports Programs, Teaching at Charlotte High School, knowledge as a area historian, and the job title he most likely enjoys… Captain of the Victory Chimes Sailing Schooner. The Victory Chimes is the oldest still standing three masted schooner in the United States to this day and through the non stop devotion to seeing its past not thrown away to become a tourist trap, the Schooner still sails currently thanks to Paul Degaeta and his commitment with numerous companies and organizations to keep the Ship doing what it was originally built to do. Paul gave thanks to pub crawl participants, as well as applauded Harry Chapin for being the first individual to use his fame and voice for a social cause which saw him start the Harry Chapin Food Bank before it became a fashion statement for celebrities to get involved in Charities. Paul and Mike together drew the winning raffle ticket that saw an local resident win a four day sailing expedition off the coast of Maine on the Victory Chimes Sailing Ship. Paul, Mike, and Nick all thanked everyone for their support and participation that saw a large influx of money and over 640 pounds of canned food items took in that would go directly to the Harry Chapin Food Bank while providing an excellent opportunity for area residents to come together and enjoy them self’s while serving a noble cause.

Speech by Victory Chimes Captain Paul Degaeta at the 2012 Pub Crawl Closing Ceremony

2012 Pub Crawl Day Coverage

The 2012 Punta Gorda Pub Crawl took place in downtown Punta Gorda last Saturday on February 25th, 2012. The event kicked off with a opening ceremony with live music provided by classic rock band, Sunday Punch that took place in the parking lot of the Ice House Pub at 1:00 PM. Pub Crawl Patrons gathered together in camaraderie and socialized with each other set to the atmosphere of classic guitar riff, a steady ryhthm section, and on point vocals while getting ready to participate in the kick of the event. The Pub Crawl would cover a span of seven restaurants in the area each set up to accompany patrons with their own designated area if they chose to sit and enjoy a very diverse mixture of live musical entertainment that each venue choose to have for the day. The event is the brainchild of Charlotte Harbor Rotarion and local resident Mike Colgan who started the event by himself with the grass roots efforts of local businesses and like minded individuals. The Pub Crawl serves as a charity event where pub crawlers bring in a donated food item that will go to the Harry Chapin Food Bank with additional incentive for non participating event patrons to donate canned food items to the events food drive which sees them earn a raffle ticket which will correlate to an evening ending raffle drawing in which the winning raffle ticket will earn them a four day sailing expedition off the coast of Maine on the Victory Chimes Sailing Schooner captained by Paul Degaeta. The event was a huge success with seven hundred and eight three pounds of food being donated and three hundred individuals participating in the pub crawl.

Participating Venues
River City Grill
Celtic Ray 
Ice House Pub
Tiki Bar at Four Points
Closer to the Vine

Socializing and Camraderie among event participants at the 2012 Pub Crawl Opening Ceremony

Izzy & the Catastrophics at the Celtic Ray

The Celtic ray continued their steady theme of providing live entertainment that typically involves a heavy rotation of providing a night of live music or a comedy show that is as always admission free with last Friday night featuring the well traveled four piece band, Izzy and Catastrophics. The Celtic Ray is an establishment in downtown Punta Gorda located on West Marion Avenue that triples as an indoor and outdoor restaurant, beer and wine bar, and venue for live entertainment four days a week. The Ray as it is known to reoccurring patrons is currently undergoing a complete renovating expansion that will see a second story floor, second bar, and a performance stage being added to the restaurant.

Izzy & the Catastrophics are an unconventional rock band by all means in which they infuse elements of swing, jazz, bebop, surf rock, and honky tonk into their product that sees them deserving of the catastrophic name, but this is not to be implied negatively as they blend all of their influences and likes into their set that is harmonious to the ears while still maintaining the feeling of an impromptu jam session of like minded musicians brimming with talent. The band has built a cult following in the United States with an impressive resume that has seen the boys play a variety of musicians from rappers such as Snoop Dog to the Reverend Horton Heat, a trio that blends southern country and punk rock, in addition to an extensive list of Punk Rock bands in So Cal tour circuit. The diverse material of their set provides a common ground for people of all tastes and cultures to be able to come together in the same room and enjoy the show these talented musicians put on with plenty of stage presence to match the sound. The band is currently composed of Izzy Zaidman on lead vocals and guitar, Mikey “Smiley” Cannon on percussion, Seth Kessel on Bass guitar, and Emiliano Vernizzi from Parma on Saxophonist who also fills in on bass guitar if needed. The band is coming off recording thier most recent album, Lucky Dragon Swing Buffet and is doing promotion for it by embarking on a nation wide tour across the continental United States before breaking off on a European Tour to concluded their 2012 touring season.

Izzy and the Catastrophics Peroformances in 1080 High Definition

Charlotte County Democratic Womens Club Luncheon

Charlotte County Democratic Womens Club Annual Holiday Luncheon at Phils 41 on December 12th, 2011

The Charlotte County chapter of the Democratic Womens Club held their annual holiday luncheon yesterday at Phils 41 Restaurant on December 12th, 2011.
The event served as a thank you to the members of the club in addition to a social gathering of friends and individuals with common interests, the clubs mission statement is for each member to strive to do their best to advance democracy for all with a additional focus on women in general. The main focus this time of the year for fundraising is toys for tots in which gifts and money are fund raised for donation to give to unfortunate children who would receive nothing otherwise this time of the year, The Democratic Womens Club chooses a different avenue for donation however, each member who attended the luncheon brought gifts for the mothers of these children who also otherwise get no gifts for the holidays despite working full time just to struggle to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. Additional gifts for the mothers were brought in through fundraising efforts and the donation from club members friends and family members who donated to the noble cause. The club has been doing this over eight years now and will continue to dedicate their efforts to this avenue for support. Club members also rallied and showed their support for Valerie Guenther who is running for the position of Charlotte County Commission in District 3 and she gave a speech detailing her plans composed of what she brings to the table and her plans to implement if she is elected to the position. The Luncheon also served as a thank you to long time member Dr. Lucy Garner who is the head of Company Youth – Homeless Kids at School, a service that dedicates its full support and finances to the support of over ninety students who are currently homeless, with out parents, and in dire need of help. Dr. Garner started this organization over 10 years ago and she has been able to keep the organization running through federal grants from the United States Government and Community fundraising by individuals, the American Legion, and local area Churches. Lucy Garners’ mission statement in her work is empowering people and women through knowledge and personal power.

Club President Mary Ellen Taylor leading the opening ceremony of the Holiday Luncheon