MARCO ISLAND, Fla. — This week marks a milestone for a beloved Southwest Florida city.
Marco Island turns 25 years old this week. And the celebration includes an entire week of activities for both long-time residents and first-time visitors.
Today it’s all about the island’s history with a special program taking place at the Marco Island Historical Museum. While the city is turning 25, the museum’s collection dates back much longer.
"This museum is a jewel. It’s award-winning and we have amazing stories that we share through the galleries of the museum.”
Inside the Marco Island Historical Museum, visitors embark on a journey to the past — a past rich with history. From its early Calusa Period, through the Pioneer Period, to the modern day.
“There have been people on Marco Island for 6,000 years so we have a very long and a very rich history," says Patricia Rutledge, Chief Executive Officer of the Marco Island Historical Society. "This is just another milestone in that history.”
A milestone as Marco Island celebrates its 25th anniversary of incorporation as a city.
“1997 was an important year for us,” said Rutledge.
“It’s all about what makes Marco unique," said Mike McNees, City Manager of Marco Island. "I mean you hear from the people who live here are the people who have relocated here or who grew up here, they all say the same things. They came here and they knew this is where they wanted to be.”
A celebration that hasn’t gone under the radar, either, as numerous events have been planned every day this week. With a beach clean-up on Monday morning kick-starting the festivities.
"Marco Island is a community and to see the community come together, in all forms, to make this a special week that we are honoring this really wonderful community that we call home- I’m very proud of it,” said Rutledge.
Whether it’s at the beach, or in the museum, you can see how much that sense of community means.
"People have a high sense of ownership in the place," says McNees. "Whether they’ve been here 25 years or 50 years or 3 years, those feelings of ownership run really deep.”
And as the city reflects on its first 25 years, there’s hope and belief this community continues to grow and flourish for the next 25.
“I do hope that that core of who we are as an island and who we are as people who live here doesn’t change," said Rutledge. "That’s what’s kept us vibrant and alive for 25 years as a city. I hope that goes on.”
The festivities continue on Marco for the rest of the week. Saturday wraps up the anniversary celebration with an adult prom at the Hilton from 6 - 9 p.m. Tickets will be sold for this event at the Chamber of Commerce. The “prom” will have a '90s theme to recognize Marco Island becoming a City in 1997.
Those with the city advise residents or visitors interested in the celebration to download the city's mobile app "My Marco" to stay up to date on all upcoming activities and important news from the city.