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Public invited to celebrate American Legion’s 50th

By Staff | Feb 9, 2011

"Gator" Gates, left, and Becky Skog stand next to the American Legion Post 123 sign on Sanibel-Captiva Road. The Post will celebrate the 50th anniversary of their original charter this Sunday, Feb. 13.

This Sunday, Feb. 13, American Legion Post 123 will be celebrating a very special milestone: the 50th anniversary of their original Sanibel charter. And in recognition of the landmark, members of the Post are inviting the entire island community to join in on the festivities.

“We’re going to throw a big party this Sunday,” said Becky Skog, who is in charge of promoting weekly and special events at Post 123. “There’s going to be a lot of food and a lot of music, all day long.”

According to American Legion spokesman Jimmy Gilles, the Golden Anniversary celebration will include a buffet with salads, lasagna, hot dogs and hamburgers. Live entertainment will be provided throughout the day on stages inside and outside. Musicians scheduled to perform include The Troublestarters, Robby Hutto & Friends, The Cracker Box Band, Pat McCuen and Tugboat Willie.

“There’s going to be all kinds of music played — rock, country, blues and bluegrass,” noted Gilles. “Something for everyone.”

In addition to great food and live entertainment, there will be a number of door prizes award and raffles drawn throughout the party, which will run from 1 to 8 p.m. And best of all, there is no admission fee to attend.

In front of the Post 123 entrance, a sign points to cities across the country, up the road and across the causeway.

“We hope a lot of people come out and help us celebrate our anniversary,” said Gilles, who explained that Post 123’s original charter was issued on Feb. 10, 1961. Back then, the American Legion facility was home to 48 members. Today, more than 175 members are active.

In the five decades since it opened, the facility — named in honor of William J. “Mac” McArthur, a longtime dedicated Post member — has remained basically the same, although there have been a few modifications to the building. A tiki hut behind the facility has also been converted for use as a lounge area.

Asked what the biggest change he’s seen over the years at the American Legion, Gilles reported that he thought the relationship between the Post and the island community has improved dramatically.

“Within the past two years, our relationship with the people of Sanibel has gotten better,” he added. “We had developed kind of a bad reputation over the years, but recently we’re seeing more and more people coming out to have dinner here, or see some of the bands we have playing here. We want people to have a good time when they come here.”

In addition to the weekly 8-Ball Pool Tournaments held on Monday nights and Texas Hold’Em Poker tournaments on Thursday nights, the Legion serves lunch and dinner every day. And as always, the public is welcome to “stop in and have a good time.”

American Legion Post 123 is located at 4249 Sanibel-Captiva Road, near Mile Marker 3. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 9 p.m.

For additional information, call 472-9979.