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Historic neighborhood dates to island’s Mayberry past

By Staff | Oct 29, 2014


Periwinkle Park is Sanibel Island’s only campground and trailer park. It has been the town’s most affordable place to live and camp for more than 50 years. Way back when John F. Kennedy was president and a gallon of gas was 25 cents, Al and Betty Muench began building the park with their young family.

Who would have imagined that today the Muench family has owned Periwinkle Park for three generations?

Second generation owners Dick and Jerry Muench, sons of Al and Betty, worked hard to build roads, sites and buildings. They and their wives, Emily and June, helped their parents grow and run the historic location that, for many, became home as their beloved Sanibel neighborhoods turned into rentals and every week different people came and went.

One of my favorite park questions is: “Are your trailers for rent?” I reply “Trailers for sale not rent,” and I try to not carry a tune with the answer.

Periwinkle Park has a few campground rules that include no credit cards, dogs or wood fires. To limit traffic through the neighborhoods, deliveries are left at the front gate where residents and campers collect their packages. Everyone in the park is really serious about the super slow speed limit of 7 & 1/2 mph. Bikes and walkers are always around every corner, so the slower drivers travel, the safer for residents and guests. All cars inside the park have to be registered at the front gate. Unregistered guests can bike or walk around the park, but unregistered cars are not allowed to drive around the park.

The famous bird aviary. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

A unique spot in the park is the bird aviary with playful parrots, ducks, lemurs, monkeys and swans. The animals are lovingly taken care of by Dick and the Periwinkle staff. If you haven’t been to Libby’s parrot show during the winter months, try and catch it she and her feathered friends are fabulous!

The Muench family have maintained and designed a beautiful affordable community with each generation tweaking it just a little more without losing the laidback Sanibel Island feeling. The roads are not paved. Jerry Muench said he always wants to feel the sand under his feet. The family has continued to beautify the park with native plantings that really add to the lush tropical feel. So thanks to them, whether living in or camping out, guests and residents enjoy a piece of paradise at Periwinkle Park.

David Muench is a third-generation manager.

“Periwinkle Park has not just been my home growing up,” he said, “but I love watching my son growing up and having fun just like I did with my dad.”

When asked about the future of the park, David Muench said: “The more things change, the more things stay the same. Absolutely the park will continue to welcome visitors and islanders for generations to come.” He has like his father, uncle, and grandfather continued to beautify the park.

Park manager David Muench. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL

Here is a little insight to PWP. The park is divided by east and west numbered roads. The east side of the park is entirely residential, the west side is a combination of residential and camping. It is also an adult community with a no subleasing of trailers/mobilehome rule. The Trailer Park rules work well for easy living. When not in residence, only immediate family is allowed to stay in units and not more than 30 days. All guests must be registered at the office, and quiet hours are 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. It gives us a homely feel, we know our neighbors, and that makes us a close community.

My husband and I have lived in the park for many years now. We moved overseas from the south Ft. Myers area and have never looked back. Thanks to the Muench Family, Periwinkle Park was our ticket to paradise!

Periwinkle Park homes and gardens. ANITA FORCE MARSHALL