Islands Night searches for sponsors, fair weather
Early American statesman Benjamin Franklin once said, "But in the world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes."
Seems that he forgot to mention rain on Islands Night.
On Tuesday, June 1, the annual celebration of neighboring islands Sanibel and Captiva will again return to Hammond Stadium at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers.
Prior to the first pitch of the baseball game between the Class A Dunedin Blue Jays and the host Fort Myers Miracle at 7:05 p.m., pre-game traditions at the ballpark include a parade along the stadium’s warning track, tailgating in the parking lot, the singing of our National Anthem by a local "celebrity" and the introduction of the islands’ baseball and softball All-Stars.
Event founder Sam Bailey, whose family has owned and operated Bailey’s General Store on Sanibel for more than a century, explained how the idea for Islands Night came to fruition.
"It started back when a guy that worked for the (Miracle) called on me and asked us to sponsor one of their games," he recalled. "The more I thought about the idea, the better I liked it."
But then, Bailey came up with another notion: an entire evening at the ballpark to celebrate both Sanibel and Captiva.
"I thought, ‘Why not rent the whole stadium?’" he said. "That way we could hold special events throughout the entire game, hang banners in the stands, run games for the kids… make it a real special night. And it’s turned out very well."
However, over the years, inclement weather has befallen Islands Night on more than one occasion. In fact, it’s sort of become a running gag on the islands: Whatever night you’re going to hold Islands Night, it’s going to rain.
But Bailey says that’s not entirely true.
"In 16 years, we’ve only had one game completely rained out, and another game got rained out after three innings," he noted. "We’ve got a pretty good track record of getting these games in."
Nonetheless, Bailey has penned yet another Islands Night poem, written in advance of this year’s contest:
"The rainmaker is back with all his power
But with God’s help only a quick summer shower
Clear skies and bright stars, with a gentle breeze
Perfect to watch the homers and the one-base squeeze
This is more than just a game
It’s a fun gathering with the island’s name
If you become a sponsor for just $100
You will be entitled to sing, laugh and holler
You’ll be listed on the game’s scoreboard
You can ride in the parade with Sam’s T Ford
Food, drink and much more pomp
As the kids and players do the romp
So sign up for this grand affair
When you arrive, you’ll be glad you’re there!"
All of the proceeds raised by Islands Night sponsorship will be distributed to local charities. Funds raised last year went to The Sanibel School, The Children’s Hospital, Sanibel/Captiva Cares, F.I.S.H. and Hope Hospice. In addition, Islands Night generates a cash gift for all graduating high schoolers living on Sanibel and Captiva.
For more information about becoming a sponsor for Islands Night, call 472-1516.
Free general admission tickets for Islands Night, which begins with pre-game festivities starting at 5:30 p.m., are available at Bailey’s General Store (2477 Periwinkle Way) and at the offices of the Island Reporter (2340 Periwinkle Way, Unit K).