Almost 300 people were in attendance at Looper-Palooza last month in Ft. Myers! Based on attendance alone, this event was bigger than a Rendezvous and we were thrilled to see so many of you there.
The event began Wednesday afternoon with our Looper Lifestyle seminar, where soon-to-be-Loopers learned how to determine what to look for in a boat, how to navigate their way through the purchase process, and how to finance their investment. Curtis Stokes from Curtis Stokes & Associates and Cindy Lewis from Sterling Associates graciously shared their expertise with a packed house.
We ended the first day with a reception hosted by Sterling Associates where attendees could mingle and get to know one another.
Thursday began ominously with dark skies and pouring rain. But the bad weather didn't dampen anyone's spirits and everyone showed up for the day's sessions happy and energetic. Kim Russo started off the day with an Introduction to the Great Loop, sharing everything from sights you can expect to see to specific considerations in various portions of the Loop, like fixed bridges and locks.
Chris & Alyse Caldwell, from Captain Chris Yacht Services empowered everyone by sharing DIY Maintenance information.
Gold Loopers Give Back
We have always believed that our Gold Loopers are more valuable then...well...gold. Who better to encourage our newest members that they can have a Great Loop adventure than those who have already completed the trip? Who better to convince the reluctant partner than someone who was a reluctant partner themselves?
Our Gold Loopers do all of that and more. On Thursday, our Gold Loopers presented on Cruising as a Couple and Marine Electronics. A couple of our Gold Loopers (including one of our looping families) shared the stories of their own Loops.
Southwest Florida Yachts sponsored a delicious lunch of build-your-own burgers, hot dogs and potato salad where attendees had another opportunity to ask questions and meet other Loopers.
After a Q&A session where Kim, a few sponsors, and several Gold Loopers answered questions from the audience, we headed over to Legacy Harbour Marina for the Looper Crawl. Thankfully, the rain storms from earlier in the day passed us by and it turned into a lovely day for a stroll along the docks. Fourteen boats were open for attendees to come aboard to take a look around and ask questions of the boat owners. The Crawl is a popular activity at the Rendezvous' and we were happy to be able to bring it to Ft. Myers. Legacy Harbour was kind enough to open their Tiki Bar out on the dock for the duration of the Crawl, so we even had some time to socialize and share docktails.
Gold Looper Reunion
Thursday and Friday evenings, our Gold Loopers gathered for their reunion. There were hugs and laughter as Loopers who maybe haven't seen each other since they were on the Loop, came together to reminisce. Gold Looper introductions gave everyone a moment at the mic to share a little bit of their story with the rest of the group.
Friday sessions were all about the route. Once again, our fabulous Gold Loopers took center stage. The route information they shared got Loopers from Ft. Myers down to the Keys, up from the Keys to Jacksonville, and on from Jacksonville up to Norfolk.
Chris & Alyse Caldwell from Capt. Chris Yacht Services took everyone on a side trip to the Bahamas. Kim Russo closed out the day with a presentation on Florida Anchoring Regulations, after furloughed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer, Christopher White was unable to participate.
For those not attending the route sessions, we scheduled a social outing Friday morning at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates. Thomas Edison had been coming to Ft. Myers since 1885 and wintered there with his wife for 60 years. His wife deeded the property to the City of Ft. Myers and nearly all the furnishings are original to the Edison family. Other buildings on site include the Guest House, Caretaker's House, Swimming Pool Complex, and study.
Henry Ford and his family were invited to Ft. Myers by Edison. They enjoyed it so much they purchased a home next door to Edison. The Ford caretaker cottage is now a nice spot to enjoy some locally made ice cream and shop for a souvenir. Be sure to stop in for a visit on your way around your Loop!
We hope everyone in attendance enjoyed Looper-Palooza as much as your Home Port Crew did! We hope to see you all again soon!