A celebration was held Friday night at Bert's Pine Bay Gallery for the opening of the new Matlacha Bridge.
Deb Cole, Bert's Pine Bay Gallery manager, said she wanted to hold the celebration to provide a place for the community to get together and celebrate the new bridge that is now a part of Matlacha. She said the new bridge provides the outside world with an opportunity to see the beautiful place in which they live.
As the sun set, a champagne toast was held on the boardwalk behind Bert's Pine Bay Gallery to celebrate the bridge's completion.
Deb Cole, Bert’s Pine Bay Gallery manager, popped the cork of a champagne bottle Friday night to celebrate the opening of the new bridge.
Cole said a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held once the construction site is cleared, which they hope will occur in April.
Laura Rider attended the celebration Friday night because she was glad the bridge was finally completed. She said when she heard Cole was hosting a celebration she told herself she would stop by and bring a bottle of wine.
"I think it's a fabulous idea," Rider said.
Throughout the construction of the bridge, Rider said it was not fun to eat at Bert's Bar & Grill or any other restaurant in Matlacha for that matter because of the pounding noise. She said the construction also devastated the art walk that occurs in Matlacha.
"It's about time," she said, adding that she was not quite sure why they had to tear down the old bridge in the first place.
Joyce Patrick, who visits the island for three months out of the year, also attended the celebration with her husband, Larry.
"We think it's the best place in the world here," she said of Matlacha.
Although the Patricks tend to like the historic markings, they believe the new bridge is going to be OK.
The celebration continued Saturday afternoon with the announcement of the art contest for the youngsters. The contest asked the children to create an original piece of artwork that depicted some aspect of the old bridge.
The winners of the contest were Olivia Engstrom, a second grade student, Jade Leutenberg, 6, and kindergarten student Stephen Skorupski.
Engstrom, who was the grand prize winner claimed a pair of Croc's and the other two winners had the opportunity to pick out a pair of flip flops.