Southwest Florida less colorful today

Photo by Norman Schimmel

One of Southwest Florida’s most colorful characters died Monday night.

The word’s getting around that Stan Gober is dead.

He came to Goodland, near Marco Island, to open a bar and restaurant in the tiny fishing village 30 years ago. The business went through several name changes, but one thing was constant: It was always Stan’s “Something,” and it was unique.

It ended up as Stan’s Idle Hour restaurant. Over the years, the annual Mullet Festival and Buzzard Lope Queen contest drew thousands to the town and the bar. Wild costumes were recommended, with none wilder than Stan’s feathery buzzard suit with mask and crown of dyed dove feathers.

The event enabled Goodland to reach the stratosphere of publicity every January, as Stan and his wild buzzard crew captured the smiles of thousands. Newspapers ran photo galleries of all the really zany people doing what they knew best – how to party.

Every county in Florida has its old-time, hard-core local eccentric. As these folks pass away, the peninsula gets a little less like Florida every day. It’s safe to say the entire village of Goodland is in mourning.

If you want to say goodbye, it’ll be in standard Stan fashion. This Sunday, June 24, the celebration starts at noon at the Idle Hour. Stan will be there in a casket on stage. At 2:30 p.m., the box moves to the Marco Island cemetery for burial next to his wife, Faye.