Celebrating Cape Coral’s 60th
Cape Coral is marking a major anniversary this weekend – it’s been six decades since our community was founded by brothers who envisioned a city-to-be on land used then as a game preserve.
Although the Cultural Park Theater’s presentation of “The Wizard of Tarpon Point” is sold out, there still is plenty of opportunity to mark the Cape’s 60th anniversary and learn about its roots as efforts begin Saturday, at that sold-out show.
Cultural Park Theater and the Cape Coral Historical Society & Museum will team up for the official 60th anniversary celebration which will include not only the revival of the “Wizard of Tarpon Point,” but memorabilia dating back to 1957, the year the community was founded. Those photos, brochures, news stories and more can be viewed after-the-fact at the historical museum.
“Everybody is in motion getting the theater ready for Saturday night. The museum is getting ready to haul in the exhibits to put in our lobby,” said Michael Moran, executive director of the theater. “The event is completely sold out.”
“This helps us celebrate the wonderful history that Rosens gave to us, and the legacy they left,” said Wendy Schroeder, president of the museum, whose husband’s family was the 12th to move to the city-to-be.
Julia Swift, the granddaughter of Leonard Rosen, who owned Gulf American, the company that created Cape Coral with his brother, Jack, will visit this weekend to see for herself what has come as a result of her family’s dream. Saturday would also have been Leonard’s birthday.
Cape “pioneer” Gloria Tate, who came to the Cape as a child, helped set up Swift’s visit with Linda Sterling, Swift’s aunt and Leonard’s daughter.
“(Sterling) was planning to come, but she wasn’t able to, so she would send her granddaughter instead,” Tate said. “We’re very excited.”
Swift said she got a call from Sterling. She also got a call from the Historical Society regarding the event and that they wanted someone from the family to attend.
“I was very excited to come out. I was close with my grandfather, but I wasn’t born until after he left Cape Coral,” Swift said, adding she has only been to Cape Coral once, about 20 years ago.
Swift will receive the key to the city from Mayor Marni Sawicki and a proclamation will be read to honor her grandfather.
Swift is expected to share tales of her family and the founding days for a community whose population is now approaching 200,000.
“I’m glad to be able to come back and talk to people who were there when my grandfather was around.” said Swift, who has worked as a writer for TV, feature films and video games and is now a professor of filmmaking at Champlain College in Vermont. “I think it’s probably more than he ever could have dreamed of.”
Swift’s visit will include a helicopter ride over Cape Coral and dinner today, and a Pioneers Club event on Sunday.
Moran said even though they have never met, it will be a thrill to meet Swift, especially since they are doing a show that talks about the Rosens and since she is going to take a tour of the city.
“It will be nice to put the face with the name. I’m anxious to see what she thinks about the city,” Moran said. “She’s going to take a helicopter ride over the city and she’ll see the old images when there was nothing.”
Cultural Park Theater’s celebration capper, a one-night staging of “The Wizard of Tarpon Point,” is a parody of the community’s founding last performed in 2004.
The play, a musical comedy, features 20 song parodies in a two-act play that spoofs the city and its government.
The story is about a land developer who is trying to buy up the waterfront land and buildings at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, which they hope to turn into a gambling casino, with the waterfront becoming a nude beach.
It’s up to the Wizard of Tarpon Point, the only person who can help, to save the city.
The performance is sponsored by the Gunterberg Charitable Foundation and the Culliton Family, which will also be honored.
Proceeds from the event will support the Cultural Park Theater and the Cape Coral Historical Society & Museum.
The Cape Coral Historical Museum and its gift shop is at 544 Cultural Park Blvd. in Cape Coral. It is open Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tours are available during open hours. Admission is $5 for adults and free for members, students and children under 18. More information may be found at capecoralhistoricalmuseum.org.
Cultural Park Theater is at 528 Cultural Park Blvd. The theater is in the midst of its Broadway Series. More information may be found at culturalparktheater.com.