by SC Reporter Teresa Vazquez
The highly anticipated Sam Bailey’s Annual Islands Night is back in the ballpark for the 27th year after a season off the diamond.
“Sam Bailey’s Islands Night is one of the greatest traditions our franchise has,” Fort Myers Mighty Mussels Director Chris Peters said. “This night has a very special place with us. Islands Night is always greatly anticipated by everyone in the Mussels family.”
Since its establishment, the Annual Islands Night serves as a day for businesses and individuals to celebrate Sanibel and Captiva. The event was originally scheduled for June 16, but was rained out and rescheduled for Wednesday, June 30 at Hammond Stadium with a game between the Lakeland Flying Tigers and the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels.
Its comeback will follow suit of prior years with the exception of the parade which will not be taking place. There are COVID protocols in place at the field preventing it from happening, but is expected to return in future years, Peters said.
The parade usually showcases floats designed by the vendors. Although the parade is benched for the season, attendees can expect the activities they have enjoyed previously. In between innings there will be a shoe scramble, a dance off, a t-shirt toss, and more.
Attendees can also enjoy $1 hot dogs, cold beverages, but most importantly an entertaining night.
“It’s a lot of fun and there’s a lot of energy,” Peters said. “It’s just the atmosphere, you have to experience it, it’s hard to kind of put in the words.”
It’s a night to sit back and enjoy a ballgame while also contributing to the community. Established years ago by Sam Bailey, it has since evolved and now sponsorships contribute to scholarships for island students, Sponsor Calli Johnson explained.
The money raised at the event goes into the Sam Bailey Scholarship Fund which helps islanders continue their education. Interested applicants can apply by contacting Kiwanis, Johnson said.
As it has grown, it has forged its spot as tradition in the community, staying strong 27 years later.
“This event is an important community gathering where islanders can enjoy each other after the traditional end of the business season and the start of summer,” Johnson said. “The spirit of Sam and Francis Bailey certainly lend to the sense of community that keeps the event alive.”
Peters and the Might Mussels in particular, enjoy playing a part in the ongoing tradition.
“It’s as rewarding as anything seeing people have smiles on their faces,” Peters said. “Just coming out to the ballpark. That’s what the reward is for us to see in people having fun at our ballpark.”
In previous years the event has held 2,000 to 3,000 attendees, now it is time to see what this year holds. Masks are encouraged, but will not be required at the event.