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‘Let’s Get Historical’ fundraiser to benefit Sanibel Historical Museum & Village

By Staff | Mar 9, 2016

Sanibel Historical Museum & Village’s Ellen O’Neill, Emilie Alfino and Jane Holder invite you to their Let’s Get Historical USO Canteen Dinner & Dance fundraiser at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village, at 950 Dunlop Road. MEGHAN MCCOY

Attendees will have an opportunity to celebrate the past, while dancing and enjoying a sit-down dinner, during the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village’s fundraiser next week.

Let’s Get Historical USO Canteen Dinner & Dance will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, at the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village, 950 Dunlop Road under tents. Although invitations have been sent to the 400 members of the village, the community is also invited to attend. Tickets are $150 per person. Those interested in attending can call Manager Emilie Alfino at (239) 472-4648.

Staff hopes the event will attract about 200 people, which is a number that fits most comfortably on the grounds.

Development Committee Chair Ellen O’Neill said the annual fundraiser is held to help contribute money to the museum.

“We have identified some needs that the Historical Village has to reserve our collection and some structural, or cosmetic needs of the village,” O’Neill said. “These are old buildings and they continue to get older and need special attention.”

A campaign will be announced the evening of the event as the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village undertakes raising $400,000 to meet those needs. The various items that are needed for the campaign will be listed at the event, so attendees can see exactly what they are asking for.

Building and Grounds Committee Chair Jane Holder said some of their volunteers are very fond of a specific building. With the breakdown of what is needed, it will give individuals an opportunity to adopt a specific project within the building if they so desire.

The fundraiser will feature music by Kelly & Shelly and dancing. O’Neill said the band is very popular on the island and they play music from the 40s. The event will also feature a sit down elegant dinner catered by Bailey’s.

As attendees enter the property of the Sanibel Historical Museum & Village they will have the opportunity to have their photograph taken with an iconic photo. O’Neill said a replica of the iconic kiss – a soldier at the end of WWII in Times Square grabbing a nurse and kissing her, will be located near the entrance.

Alfino said in 1984 the grounds opened as a museum with one building. The oldest building, the school house, located within the village is from 1896. Now there are 11 buildings.

“They were all at some point some where on the island,” O’Neill said.

The village was recreated to provide a sense of what the island was like.

“It’s really one of the reasons we have the fundraiser here . . . to bring people to the village. A lot of folks on the island, to my surprise, have never been here,” she said.

Holder said they receive a lot of comments from their visitors that they enjoy the opportunity of going into the buildings and touching some of the items on display.

“It’s a lot of fun to see the effort that people put into, the city included, getting these buildings here in the first place,” O’Neill said. “A lot of the buildings came from the bay side.”

She said Bailey’s used to be the packing house down on the bay when Sanibel was classified as agricultural before the flood. The produce that left Sanibel was packed up and sent on boat to Punta Rassa and trained to such places as New York.

“It was an interesting community back then,” O’Neill said. “There is a lot of history on this island. I think given the pressure for development all over Florida, I think we are doing really well. We have a really good Sanibel Plan.”

She said 70 to 75 percent of Sanibel lands are classified as environmental making the village even more important to retain the history. O’Neill said it’s important that the people of Sanibel have a strong sense of what has gone into making the island what it is today.

The operation of the village could not be done without the help of their dedicated, tremendous group of volunteers. This year alone 31 brand new volunteers have stepped up as hostesses, or hosts of the buildings, as well as tour guides.

“That’s terrific,” O’Neill said.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.