UPDATED: Sanibel Special Events Status Amid Pandemic

by Reese Holiday, Teresa Vazquez, Shannen Hayes

EDITOR’S NOTE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, special events have been canceled, made virtual or modified with community safety at the forefront of activities. The Santiva Chronicle is providing the status of special events that occur between October and March on Sanibel. Since its original publication on Oct. 3, this article has been updated to include additional special events.

Kiwanis ‘Crush it Fore the Kids’ Golf Tournament

The Kiwanis Club of Sanibel-Captiva will hold its third annual “Crush It Fore The Kids” golf tournament on Oct. 24 at The Dunes Golf and Tennis Club, 949 Sand Castle Rd. Activities kick off at 9 a.m.

Two person teams will participate in a nine-hole Scramble to determine the winner of the President’s Cup and other awards. The entry fee is $100 per player, and includes golf cart, lunch and refreshments at the Dunes following the tournament. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Kiwanis Foundation Scholarship Fund, which provides major scholarship support to Island students pursuing higher education. Last year’s tournament raised over $20,000 for deserving students.

To register, call Pfeifer Realty Group at 239-472-0004 or email to: crush1@gumbotree.com with the name, handicap, email and phone number for each golfer. Businesses and individuals wishing to become an event sponsor or hole sponsor can do so by contacting the organizers at this same phone/email. Checks should be made payable to San Cap Kiwanis.

Wines in the Wild (homeINstead)

The Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation has thought outside the box for this year’s Wines in the Wild fundraiser on Nov. 13 – a homeINstead evening. Even Co-creator Tom Uhler said party boxes filled with everything needed to celebrate the event at home instead of the Bailey Homestead have been created.

“When we realized we could not gathered in person for our 13th year, we wanted to find a way to still allow people to enjoy the food, wine and fun that become the hallmarks of our event,” said Uhler.

The boxes, which include a bottle of white and red wine chosen by Bailey’s General Store, food from the kitchens of Cielo, Catering by Leslie Adams, Spoondrift and Sweet Melissa’s Cafe and other celebratory elements, are available now by pre-order for touchless drive-by pickup at Bailey Homestead. A box for one person is $130 and for two is $210 per box. Visit winesinthewildsccf.com for more information.

Night to Shine

The “Night to Shine” event for adults with special needs, sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation in partnership with Sanibel Community Church, is going virtual.

“In light of the ever-changing nature of the global pandemic, and the safety of every honored guest as our top priority, we have confidently made the decision to move Night to Shine to a virtual experience on Friday, February 12, 2021,” the Tim  Tebow Foundation said in a statement. “The new virtual format will allow for thousands of guests to celebrate the evening in a safe manner and still be crowned king or queen of the prom. As for what else to expect…well, let’s just say that there’s quite a few fun surprises up our sleeve, but we can’t share everything just yet.”

Additional information will be released as it becomes available.


The Baileyfest is not new to Sanibel as October would have marked the 35th time the event took place. However, this years Baileyfest has been cancelled due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The event, hosted in the parking lot of the locally owned Bailey’s General Store, typically featured food, beverages, and entertainment including pony rides and a bounce house. The crowning of the Baileyfest King and Queen also took place at the event.

Given its local history and various sources of entertainment, the Baileyfest has been enjoyed by many members of the Sanibel community and will certainly be missed this year.

12th Annual 10K Race 4 FISH

The 10K Race 4 FISH drew hundreds of runners to the streets of Sanibel last year. SC file photo

This year’s 10k Race 4 FISH will be held virtually to keep participants safe from the ongoing pandemic. The race will officially begin Oct. 24, but participants can virtually log their time at any point until Oct. 31. Participants will sign up through the Fort Myers Track Club and log their times using the Race Joy app. This allows racers to participate from wherever they are.

“This year we wanted to continue that community event by hosting it virtually, but by still engaging our businesses and working to find ways to also help support them,” F.I.S.H Executive Director Alicia Tighe said. “We thought it would be a good way for people to participate, but in a healthy and safe way given everything that is going on with the health crisis.”

Race Committee Chair Diane Cortese said holding the race virtually “still gives us a sense of community because we’re helping out the businesses as well as FISH.”

Taste of the Islands

Taste of the Islands drew a large crowd to the community park last year. SC file photo

The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife has announced changes to its signature event. Taste of the Islands is typically held on a Sunday in November with a dozen or so restaurants offering their tastes for the patrons in a festival-style setting. This year, the event will be moving into the restaurants and lasting throughout November. Each participating restaurant will offer “taste” items with a portion of the proceeds from those designated food and beverages benefiting CROW.

Additionally, a different ‘CROW Crawl’ will feature different restaurants each Sunday in November. The CROW tent, along with animal ambassadors, will be in front of one of the restaurants with Taste of the Islands sponsors featured outside other restaurants.

“Taste of the Islands need to be ‘reimagined’ this year,” said CROW Executive Director Alison Charney Hussey. “We couldn’t have it in the park, so we needed to be creative. Everyone has had a pretty rough year, so we are excited to be able to encourage diners to come to the islands and visit the restaurants all while helping to raise money for wildlife and keeping our community healthy.”

Veteran’s Day

Usually held in person, this year’s Veteran’s Day event will have no in-person guests and instead will be pre-recorded and posted to the city of Sanibel’s website on Nov. 11. The event is organized and put on in a collaborative effort between the city of Sanibel and the Lee Coast Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America.

Although the usual in-person attendees will have to watch this year’s Veteran’s Day festivities through video, the event will still feature the same activities as years prior. The Star-Spangled Banner will be performed by the Big Arts band, a flag ceremony with the Pledge of Allegiance will take place, and members of all branches of military will be recognized. For Fred Bondurant, an organizer of the event, the recognition of those who served is what it is all about.

“It’s important that we acknowledge the service of those people who do step up to the plate and join,” Bondurant said.

Sanibel Captiva Lions Club Christmas Tree Sale

The annual Christmas tree sale held by the Sanibel Captiva Lions Club will be similar to previous years. SC file photo

The Annual Christmas Tree sale held by the Sanibel Captiva Lions Club will be similar to previous years, aside from a 20 percent inventory reduction and the implementation of CDC guidelines, Lions Club President Bill Sartoris said. This year picking out a tree will require wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. The tree sale will start Nov. 27 at the usual spot in Bailey’s Center, 2477 Periwinkle Way, until Dec. 24 while supplies last. The hours will be Wednesday to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It’s something a lot of people on the island look forward to. This Christmas is going to be different, obviously, than what we’ve had in the past,” Sartoris said. “We thought at least there would be some constancy there in terms of people being able to get a tree.”

‘Ding’ Darling Day & 75th Anniversary Gala

The annual “Ding” Darling Day on Dec. 1 will combine a day of safe family fun, live music and special guests, while following CDC guidelines. The day’s festivities will culminate in a drive-in-theater themed gala and visits from “Theodore Roosevelt” reprisor Joe Weigand that evening in the parking lot across from the Sanibel Community House on Periwinkle Way. Guests will safely enjoy live music and a program projected onto a drive-in-style screen with audio broadcast to their cars. “Car hops,” wearing masks and other protective gear, will deliver food and drinks. Gala tickets go on sale at the end of October.

“December first will be a once-in-a-lifetime celebration to remember and an occasion to look forward with optimism to the refuge’s future,” said Ding Darling Wildlife Society Executive Director Birgie Miller.

CHR Manatee Madness 

Community Housing and Resources will launch its Manatee Madness fundraiser in early December with more than a dozen specially designed manatees – each painted or otherwise enhanced by a local artist. The decorated manatees will appear in select locations around Sanibel and Captiva islands through March, when they will be auctioned off to the highest bidders. Individuals or businesses that sponsor a manatee will be able to choose where to display it, subject to certain city limitations. A map with the manatees locations will be available for residents and visitors to embark on a self-guided, self-paced tour and fun photo opportunities.

“We are thrilled that so many of our renowned and talented local artists are donating their creativity, time and energy to this project,” said CHR Executive Director Melissa Rice. “We have had to adapt to the times and promise it will be entertaining, social, artistic and safe for all.”

Luminary 2020

The Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce has extended its annual Luminary from seven hours to seven days for the “Coastal Distance Edition.” Luminary week, from Dec. 4-11, will take place during normal business hours, when businesses will offer special discounts and deals. Retailers, restaurants, accommodations, personal services, attractions, recreational activities and other local operations have been invited to participate. Unlike Luminary past, the chamber and City of Sanibel have put the kibosh on luminary light bags, alcohol (except where licensed) and any entertainment, events or activities that might draw a crowd.

“We have worked very closely with the City of Sanibel to ensure that we can promote a version of Luminary that will benefit our business community yet adhere to CDC guidelines,” said Chamber President John Lai.

Sanibel Shell Show

The long-running Sanibel Shell Show & Fair will be held virtually next year. The Sanibel-Captiva Shell Club, which hosts the show and fair, will premier videos on its YouTube channel from noon to 3 p.m. EST on Friday, March 5 and Saturday, March 6.

In keeping with the club’s mission, the viritual shell show will feature two days of videos that aim to educate, engage and amuse folks with a passion for shells, the club said in a release. The public is invited to submit a picture they have taken of the famous “Sanibel Stoop” or a favorite shell for inclusion in the show. There will be door prizes and a photography contest featuring prizes in seven different categories with a People’s Choice award.

Cancelled Events

Island Seniors Trash & Treasure Sale, Nov. 7
Sanibel Congregational United Church of Christ Christmas Eve Sunset Service, Dec. 24
Island Seniors Arts & Crafts Fair, Feb. 6

Undetermined Events

Zonta’s Peek at the Unique home tour, March 13
Sanibel Masters Art Festival at Sanibel Community House, Nov. 27
Sanibel Community House Art Festiva, Jan. 21
Sanibel Captiva Lions Club Arts & Crafts Fair, March 26-27
Sanibel Captiva Rotary Arts & Crafts Fair, Feb. 13-14
‘Ding’ Darling Go Wild, Feb. 10

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