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Cape Coral to mark 50th anniversary as a city; Breeze to release photo book marking milestones

By CJ HADDAD - | Aug 13, 2020

After months of canvasing photos, compiling images and sorting through submissions, Breeze Newspapers’ 50th anniversary commemorative photo book has been finalized.

The 128-page pictorial history book was created to commemorate the city’s 50th anniversary and is titled; “From Impossible Dream To Reality The City of Cape Coral Turns 50.”

“‘From Impossible Dream to Reality,’ is a community effort made possible through the contributions of a number of individuals and organizations to whom we are very grateful,” said Breeze Newspapers Executive Editor Valarie Harring. “From the reader-contributed title, to the era overviews provided by Cape officials, business leaders and residents who lived through them, to many of the photos collected from various sources, our anniversary book is truly our book, the Cape’s book.’

Breeze Newspapers Publisher Ray Eckenrode, who assumed his role in September of 2019, said getting the opportunity to learn first-hand about the city and its inception was a positive experience.

“As a relative newcomer to Cape Coral, helping with this book has been a real education for me,” Eckenrode said. “It’s been fun to try and digest all that’s happened here in just 50-60 years and I’ve learned how much institutional knowledge we are lucky enough to have here at the Breeze in our newsroom.”

Eckenrode hopes the book serves as a way to continue to remember the city’s historic anniversary amidst a pandemic that put a halt to celebratory events.

“With celebrations of this milestone curbed because of the coronavirus, we’re hopeful this book can provide a meaningful keepsake for people,” Eckenrode said.

The Breeze put the title in the hands of the people and created a contest in search of a name. Cape resident Jim Strosser saw an ad for the naming contest in The Breeze and concocted the eventual title of the book. He said he had an original title, but it didn’t quite roll off the tongue like he wanted. Strosser slept on the idea and the next day, voila.

“I started thinking about it and started coming up with different ideas,” Strosser said. “I came up with a version of what I eventually submitted, then I went to bed. The next morning I woke up and I tweaked it to come up with, ‘Cape Coral: From Impossible Dream to Reality.’ I thought I had a chance at it and figured why not submit it and see what happens.”

Strosser is a four-year resident of Cape Coral and is a retired Pennsylvania State Trooper. He said he was surprised but not shocked when he found out he had won, feeling the name was appropriate and fitting. Strosser said he has learned about the city’s history through articles published in The Breeze during this 50th anniversary year.

“What a crazy idea when (the Rosen brothers) decided to buy this chunk of wilderness and basically started digging canals,” he said. “It’s amazing.”

Strosser said he has enjoyed the city immensely since his arrival.

“I couldn’t be happier,” he said of his northwest Cape residence.

Numerous hours and tweaks were made to deliver a book The Breeze hopes truly captures all the city has accomplished and endured over 50 years of incorporation.

“We think ‘From Impossible Dream to Reality,’ provides a good look back,” Harring said. “If we missed anything or anybody, I apologize in advance and take responsibility for those omissions. But if you like the book as much as we hope you will, please credit Breeze photographer and designer Michael Pistella, who spent weeks agonizing — literally — over the photo selection, the page flow and layouts, and the captions that pull everything together. He not only brought the newsroom team together on this one, he led it with his all-out dedication to the project.”

Eckenrode said the book should be available for purchase in early to mid-September. The book will be sold for $20 for in-person purchase at The Breeze office or $25 for mail delivery.

A portion of the proceeds from book sales will benefit the Cape Coral Historical Society & Museum.

Copies, when they become available, can be purchased in person at The Breeze offices (mask required), by phone at 239-574-1110.

Online mail orders can be placed now at capecoralbreeze.com/store and the book will be mailed when it arrives.

The Breeze will announce in early September when phone and in-person orders can be taken.

The Breeze Newspapers would like to thank all those whose efforts made the book possible with much gratitude to the Cape Coral Historical Museum, the City of Cape Coral, Wendy Schroder, Angelo Cario and his Historical Photos of Cape Coral Facebook page and all of the “Era” contributors — Linda Rosen-Sterling, Elmer Tabor, Mike Geml, Joe Mazurkiewicz, Gloria Tate, Dr. Derrick Donnell and John Szerlag.

The Cape Coral Breeze is at 2510 Del Prado Blvd., S.

— Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj