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Rain doesn’t dampen fun at Islands’ Night

By Staff | Jun 24, 2015

Fort Myers Miracle mascot Sway takes a selfie with some of his Sanibel friends during the Islands’ Night parade. BRIAN WIERIMA

Fans of all ages sprinkled into Hammond Stadium to watch the annual Islands Night parade and a Fort Myers Miracle baseball game Wednesday night.

Eager spectators slowly gravitated towards the baseball diamond for a chance to grab an assortment of candy, shirts and other goodies flying through the air from the parade participants after the late afternoon rain showers passed.

This year an array of 27 floats circled around Hammond Stadium promoting many businesses and organizations on the island. Sam Bailey’s old Ford Model T was the first to enter the field acknowledging Bailey’s Packing Company.

Islands Night, now in its 22nd year, began in 1993 after Bailey was approached to become a sponsor for the Fort Myers Miracle baseball team.

The tradition of bringing Sanibel and Captiva islands together for a night at Hammond Stadium attracts many islanders and island businesses to partake in the evening festivities.

The Miracle mascot was open for pictures all night, during the Islands Night event, which attracted a bevy of Sanibel residents Wednesday, June 17. BRIAN WIERIMA

In 1982 Mary Erving and her husband, Tim, began Lifeline Designs on the island, which eventually led them to doing work for Bailey.

“Tim and I are community oriented, as well as Sam,” Mary said, adding that since they were already doing work for Bailey, they decided to create the first design for Islands Nights 22 years ago.

The first T-shirt, which consisted of only a front design, now has 166 sponsors gracing the back in its 22nd year.

Mary said although it can be challenging to come up with a new design every year, they enjoy continuing Bailey’s tradition. She said it’s all about keeping his sense of community alive every year.

The Erving’s have begun brainstorming something special for the 25th year’s t-shirt design.

?The Islands Night T-shirt booth was manned by Mary Irving (22nd year), Nile Lake and Dana Lubinski at Hammond Stadium. BRIAN WIERIMA

“This was his night,” she said smiling Wednesday before the game began. “He was just a character.”

Mary said she loves attending Islands Night and seeing everyone from the island visiting.

“So many of the regular locals come this night,” she said. “It’s so good for the island because everyone wants to come out and support. It shows how much we want to help each other.”

Since Islands Night began, more than $150,000 has been raised and given back to the community.

Those interested in becoming a sponsor for next year’s T-shirt can call Bailey’s, at (239) 472-1516.

Kiwanis member Bob Wimbush advertised his club’s beer stand, during a friendly competition with the Rotary Club during Islands Night. BRIAN WIERIMA

“It’s only $100, like Sam would say,” Mary said of becoming a sponsor, which is open for individuals and businesses.

The old Bailey’s Model T led out the Sanibel Islands Night parade. BRIAN WIERIMA