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Times of the Islands Magazine

'Ding' Darling Celebrated 75th Anniversary With Drive-in Theater-themed Gala

J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge Visitor & Education Center celebrated its 75th anniversary on Dec. 1, 2020, with a classic 1940s drive-in theater themed gala. The event took place from 5 to 8 p.m. at the parking lot across from The Community House, 2200 Periwinkle Way. Visitors enjoyed live music, a program projected onto a large drive-in screen with audio broadcasted onto car radios, and “car hops,” safely delivering dinner and drinks while wearing masks. This socially distant event was "a unique and memorable anniversary celebration" according to the refuge's official event page.

Space was limited to 70 cars, but there was no limit as to how many people could occupy each vehicle. Guests were encouraged to drive a sedan, if possible, to ensure visibility for other guests.

Proceeds benefitted the conservation and education efforts at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge. "Ding" would have been 144 years old this past October and has left a lasting legacy on Sanibel Island.

For those who were unable to attend and are interested in making a contribution, donations can be made here.