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Family Night added to annual Holiday House of H.O.P.E.

By Staff | Oct 31, 2012

The 3rd Annual Holiday House of H.O.P.E., which is geared towards families to provide them with a night of holiday cheer this year, will feature a fourth night this year.

Robert Wells, general manager of Tarpon Lodge, said those at the inn are really excited about hosting the Holiday House again this year. He said the idea of hosting a Family Night came to mind last year after a lot of people suggested that the first day of the event should be geared towards the whole family.

“I think it is going to be a great event,” Wells said. “I think it is going to be bigger this year. The word is out and people are talking about it.”

He said he hopes the Family Night will be the beginning of a long tradition.

Elsie Stearns, Beacon Board of Directors president, said last year the Holiday House of H.O.P.E. attracted people as far away as Tampa, Naples and Lehigh Acres – because the Tarpon Lodge is a destination. She is hoping that with the addition of Family Night it will become a new tradition for families on the island.

Scarlett Player, a member of the Holiday House committee, agreed in saying that she hopes the Holiday House Family Night will begin a long-time tradition for families to attend for years to come.

Stearns said since the holidays are already considered to be family time, the Holiday House Family Night will only enhance that experience.

“The Beacon is a family type of organization,” she said, because “we are touching lives of newborn children to a 104-year-old receiving service from Meals on Wheels.”

Family Night, Stearns said, coincides with what the Beacon is all about.

“It is a perfect addition,” she said.

Family Night, Nov. 28, which is open to the public, will be held at the Tarpon Lodge from 5:30-8:30 p.m.

“The Family Night is the night to bring the kids to the lodge,” Stearns said, adding that they wanted to include a night where families felt they were welcomed to the event.

Scarlett said there is a $5 minimum donation for individuals to Family Night, which includes a kid-friendly family buffet.

“It is a kid-friendly menu that parents will enjoy as well,” Stearns said.

She said the night will include a special appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus, who will arrive by boat between 6:30-7 p.m. at the docks of Tarpon Lodge. The youngsters will have an opportunity to have their pictures taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus under the gazebo.

The special family night will also include items from the vendors that are priced for the kids, so they can purchase presents for their parents.

Music will fill the air courtesy of the Pine Island Elementary School Choir, as well as the United Methodist Church Chancel Chimes.

Tonya Player, Pine Island Public Library Associate for Youth Services, who will come dressed for the holiday festivities, will share holiday tales.

Local children’s author Wilson Hawthorne will also be a part of Family Night at the lodge, as he will be dressed as a pirate while sharing pirate stories for the youngsters. He said he will also have some pirate picture books for the younger kids as well.

He said the first book, “The Last Pirate,” was published in April 2009 and “The Cajun Pirate” was published about a year later. The third in the series, “Curse of the Pirate,” was published last February. All three of the books will be for sale during the Holiday House.

All of the books are geared towards youngsters between 10-15 years old, or at the 6th grade reading level.

“I sell a lot more to adults than I do kids,” Hawthorne said. “What they like about it, it is not just a bunch of kids running around, a host of other characters that really range in their ages and nationalities.”

After the first book came out, he said he found that there was a huge pirate following, which he incorporated more of in his next two books.

“The next two books are a lot more pirated up for the demands of the readers,” Hawthorne said.

He obtained a degree in writing in 1983 and worked for a newspaper as a reporter when the paper started a TV station, which led him into the world of production. Throughout his production career, he continued to write because it is a true passion of his.

“I knew some day I would start writing novels, that day came sometime in 2008,” Hawthorne said.

“I hope people will come,” Scarlett said about the event. “It is going to be a really great event for a really good cause. The Beacon of H.O.P.E. needs help to help people.”

Different authors and musicians will be highlighted each night of the Holiday House.

On Thursday, Nov. 29, local cookbook author Dick May will be sharing his favorite recipes and selling his books. Jazz clarinetist Lanny Lamb will fill the air with holiday music

On Friday, Nov. 30, the Symphonic Chorale of SWFL will perform holiday classics and D.L. Halvin, a local author, will have his books at the Holiday House.

The last night, Saturday, Dec. 1, will feature local author John D. Mills. “Fiddlin” Fred Mayer will play holiday music on his five-string viola.

Nocera Photography will be offering portrait sittings on both Friday and Saturday.

The Tarpon Lodge will be open for dinner and the bar will be serving drinks. Those who wish to eat at the Tarpon Lodge are encouraged to make reservations at 239-283-3999.

The Holiday House committee is looking for volunteers to work the event. Those interested can call 283-1618.