EDITOR’S LETTER 12 GASPARILLA ISLAND May/June 2017 Marcy Shortuse Editor-in-Chief As another hot Florida summer is cranking up, so is the fishing. Tarpon time and social season always overlap a little bit, but this year the tarpon were on fire in late March and early April. Not literally on fire, of course, but the bite was. Happy fishing guides create a feeling of joy and prosperity in the air on our small island, and that feeling in turn spreads through the community. Tarpon season reminds us who we are, who we've always been. This community thrived for generations as a fishing island, it's in our blood. If you live here and you don't feel a thrill from hearing the talk at The Temp about how many tarpon were rolling, how many were jumped and how many were released ... well, you're missing out on a great big part of what this place is about. It hasn't always been about who had the best cocktail party, who wore the most beautiful outfit or who had the best golf or tennis game. It used to be about the biggest fish, or the biggest “World's Richest” prize money. Tournaments like the Gasparilla Island Kids Classic, the World's Richest, Ladies Day and the Howl at the Moons bring us all together after the winter residents leave. We peek out of our offices and homes and look down the street to see how many golf carts and cars are there. If there's less than 20 we breathe a little sigh of relief and start to resume our normal activity. Don't get me wrong, we depend on the winter residents and tourists who come to the island to help make it what it is, but it can be a little crazy, too. This season brought a whole lot of people here, so many our heads are left spinning sometimes. I wish everyone who enjoyed Gasparilla Island in the winter would come at least once during the summer months and spend awhile here. It may be hot and humid, but it feels so much more like old Florida. It is "our" island, "our" beaches and "our" stores again. You really need to try it ... you'll like it. The Island School is another great example of an institution that brings us all together. With a maximum capacity of only 60 students the school was flooded with applications this year, so many so, unfortunately some really old island families couldn't get their little ones into kindergarten. We all felt terrible about that, but it was a little bit of a relief as well because when my oldest daughter went there - from 2006 to 2012 - some years they had less than 25 students in all. Everything waxes, everything wanes, we just did a lot of waxing in the last few years (thanks to a really superb teaching and support staff, I might add). The kids in third, fourth and fifth grade who are in our little school's STEM camp assembled and operated their own ROV - a Remotely Operated Vehicle - built for underwater use this year. They actually started the project last year, and under the tutelage of teacher JT Tremaine they did a fantastic job. I got to see the kids operating the ROV on two different occasions at two different locations, and it seemed to work like a champ. Projects like that keep kids interested in science, math, engineering and technology in general, and that is what we need very much in our future generations of adults. The Range Light, now known as the Gasparilla Island Light, is another island icon that we all feel strongly about. We are so lucky to have not just one, but two, operational beacon lights on this island. The Board of Directors and staff at the Barrier Island Parks Society have worked extremely hard to raise money for this desperately-needed renovation of the tall, tubular light and it looks simply stunning. Our freelance photographer friend Skip Perry took the photos and really got into the project, so they are fantastic. We hope you enjoy this issue of the magazine. It would be enjoyed even more on a beautiful May day, swinging in a hammock with a margarita, listening to the sounds of the waves lapping at the shore. I wish that for all of you. Take care of yourselves, and of each other ... our world is a crazy place right now and we need to feel the love.
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