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Calling all mermaids: Bert's parade Feb. 8

January 29, 2020

The Parade of Mermaids began at Bert's Bar and Grill as a kick-off for the "Pirate Ball," a fundraiser for breast cancer. Deb Cole of Pinebay Gallery adopted it as her baby, almost immediately. Because of all the interest, the parade evolved to include Mer-People of all kinds, such as men and children.

Every year a different organization is chosen as a beneficiary of the proceeds from the event. In 2019, $2,000 was raised for the Florida Commercial Watermen's Conservation, in an effort to have the off-shore waters tested, due to red tide. This year, proceeds from the event will be donated to C.R.O.W (Clinic for Rehabilitation of Wildlife), in honor of "Bertie," a pelican who fell from the sky on New Year's Day, right in front of Bert's Pinebay Gallery. Cole recalls making several calls for help just after the incident, which led her to the organization.

"A customer came in with young daughters and said that a pelican had fallen from the sky," said Cole. "He assumed it had been electrocuted. I didn't know what to do but I started making phone calls to 911, and then the sheriff, and finally I was connected to C.R.O.W. They talked me through the situation and told me what to do. I got a big container from our storage unit. I wrapped the pelican in towels, with the help of a couple of strangers. We put it in the container and I drove to a veterinarian in Cape Coral."

Cole said since she's been keeping abreast of the situation with Bertie, she's been learning a bit about C.R.O.W. and how it operates. What most impresses her is the number of animals the organization cares for. Cole said she was amazed that Bertie was the 11th patient this year for C.R.O.W, even though the bird had fallen on Jan. 1. She admits that she also likes the fact that someone is always available to talk to her about Bertie's progress and condition. Cole said you can watch a live feed on the C.R.O.W. website of the animal's rehabilitation as well. All of the interaction with the organization, combined with its hands-on approach to dealing with injured animals of all kinds, played a big part in the decision of the recipients of this year's Parade of Mermaids proceeds.

"We have three judges for the parade," said Cole. "Local author Robert Macomber, who has been a judge all along, and this year we have, William Tidball from C.W. Fudge and local artist Barbara Luck from Florida Gallery."

Last year, Cole reports there were 45 contest participants, with at least as many spectators, as the Parade of Mermaids has now become a beloved tradition. In an effort to make the event as memorable as it has been in years' past, there will be food and drinks donated by Bert's Bar and Grill, which will be served by volunteers from the Chamber of Commerce.

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Cole said there will be live music by Strange Arrangement, a band comprised of brothers born on Pine Island who will play their own original music. There will also be a raffle as well as a silent auction, in which the hottest item is four club tickets to a Miami Dolphins football game for next season.

Anyone who donates at the event will be given a receipt from C.R.O.W so they may write off their donation. Cole said they are still seeking donated items to auction off from anyone who would care to help this worthy cause.

"People in this community always step up and show their support," said Cole. "I'm sure we'll have many more things donated before the day of the event. We are calling all mermaids! More local people need to come and find their inner mermaid."

Registration for the Parade of Mermaids, for a donation of $10, begins at 4 p.m., at Bert's Pine Bay Gallery, located at the northeast corner of the Matlacha Bridge in Matlacha.

For more information, contact Cole at 239-283-1335.



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