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Seahorse Festival to feature multiple ‘firsts’ for 25th year

By Staff | May 2, 2018

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Annual Seahorse Festival is taking it up a notch.

Organized by The Sanibel School PTA, the event will be held on May 5 from 4 to 7 p.m. For the first time, it will take place at the Sanibel Community Park and will feature a live band – Wilder Sons from Naples – alcohol, raffles and more, all with the goal of raising needed funds for The Sanibel School.

“We’re a public school and we’re a very small public school, so we don’t get as much from the government as the rest of the schools,” PTA President Kimberly Paulus said. “The Seahorse Festival is the PTA’s big funding event of the year. It’s where we make most of our money for the school.”

The group also hosts a fall fundraiser, but Hurricane Irma kept it from taking place.

“We had to cancel our big fall event,” she said.

Paulus explained that hosting the Seahorse Festival at the park, rather than on school grounds, opened the door to additional fund-raising opportunities at the event, like selling alcohol and holding raffles.

“It was important to have it somewhere where we could make as much money as possible,” she said, noting that the park is on Periwinkle Way and provides a higher level of visibility and foot traffic.

In planning the event, the PTA aimed to mirror ones like CROW’s Taste of the Islands.

“People come for the band, they come for the music – they come for the food,” Paulus said. “I wanted to do something like that on a smaller scale.”

Wilder Sons features a “beachy alt-rock style,” according to the band’s Facebook page.

It formed in 2013 in South Florida with indie scene veterans Brian Blount and Jake Rubington, both experienced front men for prior touring bands. Dan Springs and Nic Viens later joined the group.

“The band is awesome,” she said.

Wilder Sons will perform a few sets during the festival.

“We’re trying to set up some entertainment to go in-between them,” Paulus said. “Like maybe the kids doing some skits and things like that.”

Bailey’s General Store has donated the wine, and the beer is sponsored in part by J.J. Taylor Distribution and Point Ybel Brewing Company. Point Ybel will have craft selections on hand.

“We’re going to have a couple of their beers,” she said.

Paulus noted that the PTA may mix up and serve a special festive drink for the holiday.

“We’re probably going to have margaritas too since it’s Cinco de Mayo,” she said.

In partnership with The Sanibel School Fund, a street legal golf cart is being raffled off. Tickets will be available for sale on site, with the winner announced at the Blue Ribbon Classic Golf Tournament.

“We’re selling tickets for that at our event, and we’re doing a 50/50 raffle,” Paulus said.

As in previous years, there will be a silent auction.

“We have two-night stays at three or four different places,” she said.

There are also items donated by local businesses, including Key West Express tickets, tickets to the Florida Repertory Theatre, summer camps for the Sanibel Sea School and BIG ARTS, and more.

“We’re getting a bunch of stuff from off-island,” Paulus said.

Some mini-fundraisers are planned, as well.

“This year we’re doing something a little different too with the classrooms,” she said. “We decided to have each of the classes create and run a game.”

There will be corn hole and card games, and everything from a lemonade competition to a get-out-of-jail game. The eighth-graders are running a dunk tank to raise funds for their promotion ceremony.

“All the money that they make at their carnival game, they get to keep for their class,” Paulus said, explaining that the funds will help to pay for field trips, extra classroom supplies and such.

For a $20 wristband, children can have unlimited access to the Inflatables Fun Zone.

“There’s a ton of stuff,” she said.

The activities to be featured in the children’s area will include a rock climbing wall, Hippo Chow Down, Wipe Out, Xtreme Obstacle course, Warrior Jump, Bungee Run and Spider Jump.

The Salty Sam’s pirate ship may even make an appearance.

Because the festival is at a city park, there is also a playground onsite.

“Which is good, especially for the little little kids,” she said.

Some local restaurants serving up food and drinks will include the Key Lime Bistro, Sanibel Deli & Coffee Factory, The Pecking Order, Bubble Room and Joey’s Custard, along with Hawaiian shaved ice.

Admission is $5 for adults and children are free.

“We expect up to about 500 normally and that’s including children,” Paulus said. “This year, however, I’m hoping for more.”

She noted that the proceeds have declined over the years, another reason to relocate the event.

Last year, the event raised $18,000 as compared to close to $47,000 in 2009.

“We’re supposed to stay under $50,000, so I want to get as close to that as possible,” Paulus said when asked about this year’s fund-raising goal. “That’s how much we were making years ago.”

Some of the school programs covered by the PTA’s fund-raising efforts include the Ben Carson banquet, criterion writing, Brainpop, Million Word Reader, STEM, Scholastic Weekly, Quizlet and Quia, supplies for art, physical education, music and media, FMEA Conference, Kliest and more.

Attendees are welcome and encouraged to bring blankets or chairs.

“We’re going to have some tables and chairs,” she said.

The Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club has volunteered to handle the parking.

The PTA is still open to anyone else who would like to help out.

Paulus invited the community to swing by.

“Coming out is supporting the Sanibel community and The Sanibel School,” she said.

For more information, contact 239-822-4044 or KimberlyPaulus@me.com.

The Sanibel Community Park is at 2231 Periwinkle Way.