October 15, 2016, a moonlit party next to the Outpost raised over $2,000 for Save Guana Now.
Photo by Garrett Milanovich
Our first fundraiser was a success in every sense of the word. We raised over $2,000 with zero overhead - unless you count the full moon that bathed the yard in a soft glow. The dramatic moonrise over Guana Lake had cameras clicking, and some guests climbed to the upper deck of the cabin for a breathtaking view. Tiki torches dotted the yard and mosquitoes took the night off; it was a perfect evening and a wonderful opportunity for neighbors from near and far to meet - the silver lining in a fight against unwanted development.
The party took place at the very last house on Neck Road, right next to the Outpost, in a quaint log cabin whose dock overlooks the land threatened by developers. We received good news/bad news when we asked property owners Dr. Mell Bridges and her husband Gregory Curry if we could use their house for our event. They gave us permission to use the house, but it was scheduled to be demolished in just 12 days! Not much time to plan and get on people's calendars. Hurricane Matthew blew our plans away just two days before the party, and we rescheduled for the following weekend as the log cabin escaped the bulldozer for at least another week.
Photos above and below by Garrett Milanovich
Gary Coulliette, co-founder Save Guana Now
Donna (Oesterreider) Carraso
After creatively parking around mountains of post-hurricane yard debris, about 65 people enjoyed a feast put together by the party-goers themselves, so that every single penny donated could go to the fund to oppose development of the Outpost. Dishes ranged from Bill Darty's delectable ribs that spent hours in the smoker to Terry Cake's amazing key lime pie that was made from key limes grown in his yard to Martha Denneen's glazed ham sliders that disappeared in an eye blink. Another very special treat was live music by Gary Coulliette - co-founder of Save Guana Now, who plays local gigs. But this one was pro bono. His client - his beloved Guana.
Many areas were represented at the party, from Jacksonville to Gainesville. All of the attendees were kindred spirits in their love for Guana and their fear for the conservation land at the Outpost being imperiled by developers.
A dock was rebuilt just for the occasion of the party where people took turns gazing at the entire length of the Outpost property and imagining its fate - either preserved in its natural, spectacular state, or deforested for 77 homes. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the second option must be defeated.
Updates were provided on the battle to stop development, followed by first-hand descriptions of life in and around the cabin over the years. Long-time resident Hugo Mickler had wonderful memories of growing up in the area, and then Donna (Oesterreicher) Carrasco - the niece of the man who built the log cabin - shared her memories as well. It was her first time inside the house since she was a child. Passionate about the need to preserve the neighboring Outpost property, she expressed her intent to bring greater awareness to the cause. Advocate Deb Chapin also stepped up to describe how preservation of the Outpost could tie in with the proposed Ponte Vedra Greenway trail.
Garrett Milanovich - student photographer at UNF who is making the fight against development at the Outpost the subject of his thesis - also showed up. We're grateful to have several of his beautiful photographs of the event.
As new members are added every day to the list of supporters of Save Guana Now, the effort to fight development of 99 acres of conservation land is gaining momentum. Whatever the outcome of the lawsuit filed against the county by the Ponte Vedra Corporation, the grass roots organization is poised to fight. Tax exempt status is pending. Bumper stickers are being slapped on cars. Yard signs are popping up that ask people to "Be a hero to a heron" and "Stop Dream Finders Homes' nightmare." The next fundraiser is already under discussion.
That little cabin has seen many a party over the decades, but perhaps none with a higher purpose. The morning after the party, the clean-up crew was reminded of why they had gone to all that trouble, as a bald eagle soared overhead from the direction of the Outpost, while a heron, an egret and a skimmer fished the lake below.
On route to and from the fundraiser, the party-goers drove past signs on Neck Road featuring Craig O'Neal's photographs of animals seen in Guana. If you would like a yard sign, contact us and we'll make one available to you at our cost: $25. They're color-printed on two sides, 26" square, and they include an extra heavy duty wire stand. Craig's stunning photos are also available on bumper stickers for Save Guana Now. Please order one if you haven't already.
Got party pics? Send them to
Wildlife photographer Craig O'Neal and Nicole Crosby, co-founder Save Guana Now, combine
pictures and words to create a road-side campaign to save the Outpost from development.
Facing south on the dock, the entire shoreline of the Outpost is in view. The tip is shown here.
Goodnight Moon. We'll see you at the next Save Guana Now fundraiser.