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CIHS releases schedule of events for new season

By TIFFANY REPECKI / trepecki@breezenewspapers.com - | Nov 10, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED “History Repeats Itself” is set for Nov. 22 at 12:30 p.m. at the Chapel by the Sea.

The Captiva Island Historical Society recently announced its schedule of events for the 2020-2021 season and, like many island organizations, it is taking a new approach in light of the pandemic.

“What we have attempted this year is to use formats and locations that are different than what we’ve used in the past or that we’ve relied on in the past,” CIHS Board President Tom Libonate said.

All of the events will be outdoors and in adherence with CDC protocols.

“It’s a little bit of ingenuity mixed with responsibility,” he said.

First up, it is partnering with Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages & Marina to host a “Share Your Story” event on Nov. 16 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The community is invited to come and share their “Big Fish” tales for possible inclusion in the CIHS’ new documentary, “The History of Angling on Captiva.”

PHOTO PROVIDED The “Island Store Dedication” will take place on Dec. 10 at noon.

On Nov. 22, “History Repeats Itself” will take place at 12:30 p.m. at the Chapel by the Sea.

“There’s a photo that hangs at the historic chapel. It’s part of the chapel’s history,” Libonate said, explaining that it was taken in about 1918 on the grounds. “We’re going to redo the photo.”

The CIHS will snap a “Then & Now” image in the same location.

“If you think about where we were in 1918 — there was a pandemic at that time,” he said. “We’re going to take that picture again, but chronicling the environment we’re living in today.”

Libonate noted that the intent is not to recreate the photo.

PHOTO PROVIDED “Double Feature Movie Night” will be held on Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. on the beach.

“What we’re trying to do is capture where we are today, in the same location,” he said.

Those interested in being in the photo can register online in advance. Participants should dress in normal attire and masks will be required. Chairs will be set up and properly socially distanced.

Participation is free and open to all, plus spectators are welcome.

The new photo will be placed in the CIHS archives.

“It’s something that’s been on our radar for while and been in our idea folder — to go to historic locations and replicate photos that have a historical relevance,” Libonate said.

Cambridge, Canada - September 27, 2013: Drive in movie attendees wait in line for their snacks and drinks at the concession stand of the Valley Drive In while the pre-show movie trailers play in the background. Long exposure.

On Dec. 10, the CIHS will host an “Island Store Dedication” at noon in partnership with Bailey’s General Store, the new operators of the recently reopened grocery and delicatessen storefront.

“To present a plaque that commemorates the building,” he said.

There will be sharing of the building’s history and possibly some storytelling.

“We know that at one point in time the building was owned by ‘Ding’ Darling,” Libonate said.

For 105 years since first appearing on the Lee County tax records, the structure now known as The Island Store has played many roles. It has been a boarding house, beauty parlor, school dormitory, store, restaurant, hurricane shelter, an architect office and polling precinct, even a rumored brothel.

Cambridge, Canada - September 27, 2013: Drive in movie attendees wait in line for their snacks and drinks at the concession stand of the Valley Drive In while the pre-show movie trailers play in the background. Long exposure.

“It’s had many different lives,” he said.

The event is open to the public.

Face coverings will be required, and physical distancing will be maintained.

On Jan. 11, the CIHS is teaming up with the ‘Tween Waters Island Resort and Spa to hold a “Double Feature Movie Night” at 7 p.m. on the beach. In case of rain, a secondary date of Jan. 18 is set.

Libonate explained that the event had originally been planned for the resort’s Wakefield Room. Knowing an indoor event would not be feasible given the health crisis, a plan B was formed.

“We said, ‘Let’s take it to the beach,'” he said.

Libonate noted that Tony Lapi, board chair and president of Sanibel Captiva Beach Resorts — which includes ‘Tween Waters — is a CIHS board member and the resort has equipment for outdoor viewings.

The CIHS documentaries “Sands of Time” and “Earth, Wind & Water” will be shown.

“Both of those documentaries have a ‘Tween Waters element to them,” he said.

Libonate explained that “Sands of Time” talks about the history of erosion on the island and a big segment in the film consists of Lapi talking about when the road in front of ‘Tween Waters collapsed.

“That was kind of the beginning of the Captiva Erosion Prevention District,” he noted.

For “Earth, Wind & Water,” Dottie Wakefield — the daughter of the resort’s founders — plays a prominent role in the film in which she talks about her history of growing up on the island.

The event is open to the public.

“Admission is free for all of our events this year,” Libonate said.

“Reservations are requested,” he said. “But certainly people will not be turned away.”

Chairs will be provided; attendees can also bring their own seating or blankets.

“We’re going to ask people to wear masks,” Libonate said.

Two additional events are planned for the season, with more possible down the road.

“They too will be outdoor movies,” he said.

“Open-Air Cinema 1” will take place on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of McCarthy’s Marina, with a Feb. 15 rain date. “Open-Air Cinema 2” will be held March 8 at 7 p.m., with a March 15 rain date.

“They are cart-in, walk-in, drive-in movies,” Libonate said.

“They can come by golf cart and sit in their cart or bring their chair and socially distance,” he added.

The February film will be “Queen of Swing,” by Florida filmmaker John Biffar. A full-length documentary from 2006, it chronicles the life of Norma Miller. The youngest original member of Whitey’s Lindy Hoppers, it covers the role she and her fellow artists played in the globalization of racial integration. A Fort Myers resident, Miller passed away in 2019, just shy of turning 100.

“We had her speak at one of our events,” Libonate said.

Biffar will be in attendance for the showing.

“He will be there to introduce the movie and talk about the documentary,” he said.

The March film will be “Mullet: A Tale of Two Fish,” produced by WGCU. The 57-minute documentary captures the history of Florida’s most under-appreciated fish. Attendees will learn about the importance of mullet as a food source for the Native Americans, Spanish explorers and Florida pioneers, plus the rise and fall of the commercial mullet fishing industry in the 20th century.

Those interested in attending the films can register online in advance.

Face coverings will be required, and physical distancing will be maintained.

“A lot of what we’re going to be doing this year is looking for opportunities to maintain engagement with our followers and our fans and our supporters,” Libonate said. “It’s about maintaining our presence and contact with the community — and doing so responsibly, and with some imagination.”

For more information or to register for an event, visit www.captivaislandhistoricalsociety.org.

The CIHS can also be contacted at 239-472-2323 or mail@captivaislandhistoricalsociety.org.