The Matlacha Bridge Reef Project is in full fund-raising mode, collecting money to turn a portion of the old Matlacha Bridge into an artificial reef.
Tina Bush of Island Floors Inc. & Interiors said the group's efforts now are focused on the fund-raising because the selection of a location and permitting are done.
"The more we raise the more of the old bridge we take out to the reef location," she said, which will be situated at the southern-most point of the Novac Reef. "It depends on how much we raise to how much we can take out there."
The efforts are focused between now and the first of October to raise enough money to move a portion of the bridge to its new location.
"I'm just so proud of the whole island," Bush said about the response that she has gotten and the support she has received from the community.
The first fund-raiser for the non-profit organization will take place Saturday, Sept. 22, from 3-6 p.m., at the Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha. Tickets to attend the event are $10, which includes a fish fry.
If You Go:
What: Matlacha Bridge Reef Project benefit
When: Saturday, Sept. 22, from 3-6 p.m.
Where: Olde Fish House Marina in Matlacha
Tickets: $10 a person, which includes fish fry
Information: 239-244-4434 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals can call 239-244-4434 for tickets. Although Bush recommends that individuals purchase their tickets in advance, so there is enough for the fish fry, they can buy tickets at the door the day of the event.
The benefit will also feature a silent auction, live local music, a seafood raffle and a 50/50 raffle. T-shirts will also be available during the event for $20, which will feature the logo artist Mel Meo designed for the project.
An added feature for the benefit will be the "Secrets of Pine Island Fishing Seminar," which will be conducted by Capt. Dick May, an island charter captain, cook and author. He said the seminar will touch upon ways to prepare fish, as well as how to catch fish around Pine Island - based on his motto, "Catch 'em & Cook 'em."
Donations are still needed to accomplish the project, which can be sent to the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project, 5261 Pine Island Road, N.W.
"We really want to rally people," Bush said, because it is going to take everyone to accomplish the goal. "Every little bit helps."
The idea of turning the old Matlacha Bridge into an artificial reef came to fruition the first week of July and soon turned into a non-profit organization - the Matlacha Bridge Reef Project - because Rod Mazzoli of Island Floors Inc. & Interiors wanted to preserve a piece of the island's history.