The Naples community is rallying together for another Naples Fest, and it's happening next Thursday, Aug. 15.
Hosted by the Naples Island Business Association, restaurants and shops will stay open late along Second Street in Naples and neighbors can stop by for some small bites to eat, network with each other and stay around for dinner or a round of cold brews.
"Every year, it's just an excuse to have fun and mingle and stay out a little later in your neighborhood," Jeff Hoffman, organizer, said. "You can eat good food, network and just have fun."
Tickets for the tastings can be purchased at participating locations on Second Street between Venetia Drive and Campo Walk.
At Naples Island Car Wash, the car washing operations will be put on hold for the evening and the space will instead feature a wine and beer garden for those 21 and older. The Buzzy James Trio band will entertain guests for the evening.
For the kids, there will be face painting and family game activities, with the Big Red Bus available to transport attendees between designated stations. Carmen's Coffee, a mobile coffee shop, also will be in the area selling hot and cold caffeinated beverages and paninis.
Additionally, 9Round Boxing in Naples will be hosting a Special Olympics fundraiser.
"We're getting a little more creative and interactive with our fundraising efforts," Clarissa Bauer, 9Round Long Beach owner, said. "Our members will be decorating their gloves, then during Naples Fest, people can vote for their favorite with a dollar."
Anyone can participate. The only requirement is to bring a decorative boxing glove to the 9Round location, 5668 E. Second St., and submit an entry. Passersby can vote for their favorite — at the rate of $1 per vote.
Winners don't receive anything except bragging rights, but all of the money raised will go towards training the gym's Special Olympics athletes, providing them with gym equipment, uniforms and more.
"I'm really excited to see how much money can be raised there," Hoffman said. "The gym does their best for Special Olympics athletes here in Long Beach."
For more information, go to facebook.com and search for "Glove Decorating Contest Fundraiser for Special Olympics Athlete."
Additionally, Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price will be acting as a host for the bike registration booth, and the Long Beach CERT team will be available to discuss disaster preparedness and sign up interested volunteers.
And if there are any questions during the event, student volunteers from Wilson High School's Surf Club will be out and about with maps and event information, all sponsored by Farmers & Merchants Bank and Michael’s on Naples Ristorante.
Other participating restaurants include Chianina Steakhouse, KC Branaghan's, Flavor of Punjab, Kihon, Komo's Cocina, Michael's Pizzeria, Naples Rib Company, Nico's Restaurant, The Small Cafe and Valentino's Pizza.
Naples Fest is happening from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, along Second Street between Venetia Drive and Campo Walk.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.