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WOW Festival: Many family activities planned for Harns Marsh event

January 11, 2017
CITIZEN STAFF REPORT ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District will hold its Sixth Annual Wings Over Water Festival on Friday, Jan. 20, and Saturday, Jan. 21, at Harns Marsh to help the public discover the beauty of southwest Florida's water, land and wildlife.

The two-day, annual festival celebrates southwest Florida's natural resources and includes presentations from experts, an array of exhibits from local organizations, kids' activities, food, and a rubber duck race. Admission to the festival is free of charge.

LA-MSID's mission is to preserve and protect the water resources within its boundaries. In the early 1980s, ECWCD transformed the 578-acre farmland into an active stormwater facility, Harns Marsh, to filter water and reduce flooding to the Orange River. The water control structures have helped create a lush habitat for snail kites, limpkin and more than 160 species of animals. Harns Marsh is located in the eastern portion of Lee County located off of Sunshine Blvd. in Lehigh Acres.

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Harns Marsh is the site of the WOW Festival. The public is invited to two days of activities.

"The WOW Festival showcases to the importance of LA-MSID's mission and provides a unique opportunity for community members to connect with local organizations and experience nature through an array of interactive experiences," said Ken Thompson, chairman of the LA-MSID Board of Commissioners.

On Friday, Jan. 20, LA-MSID will host a presentation from 8 to 10 a.m. at Harns Marsh. You can explore the history of Harns Marsh; learn about its water control features; and discover the flora and fauna. LA-MSID Manager David E. Lindsay will discuss the future plans/development for Harns Marsh and the West Marsh. Admission is free. Reservations are preferred:

The WOW Festival Community Day on Saturday, Jan. 21, has grown to include more vendors/exhibitors, plant sale, kid's activities and more.

The WOW Festival has welcomed the Lehigh Acres Rotary Club this year to the event. The Lehigh Acres Rotary Club presents the Lehigh Acres Regional Medical Center Wings Over Water 5K Nature Run on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 7:45 a.m.

"The race has become a staple in the history of both the Lehigh Acres Spring Festival and in the lives of the community members," said event coordinator Earl Hart. "The race provides an opportunity for the residents to get involved in the future of its children and to have a little fun in the process."

All community members in good health are encouraged to register for the Wings Over Water 5K a first at Harns Marsh. Individuals are divided into categories by age and gender with trophies awarded to the top finishers in each group. Participants can pre-register for the event at Participants can pre-register for the event until March 14 for $20 for adults and $10 form youth (18 and under). Race day registration is $25 for adults and $15 for youth. This "breathtaking course" provides a can't miss opportunity, promoters say.

Immediately following the conclusion of the 5K Race will be an awards ceremony and the official opening of the Sixth Annual WOW Festival Community Day. The WOW Festival will host a variety of on-site activities from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. including lectures from experts; exhibitions by wildlife and education-related organizations and businesses; plant sale; the rubber duck races by Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties to raise fund for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life event; food and beverage sales, children's activities, free blood pressure checks by the Lehigh Acres Fire and Rescue District; numerous educational exhibits by local organizations and businesses guided walks and viewing of various species of flora and fauna. In addition, Home Depot will host a free children's activity to build birdhouses while supplies last.

Festival Day speakers include:

- Mark Renz, who is a fossil guide and author of numerous books on Florida fossils. "How to Find Fossils In Florida." Mark will discuss being prepared, knowing what to look for, and more.

- Steve "Snakeman" Masek will bring his live animal educational sessions back for another year. He introduces guests to a variety of invasive exotic animals that are threatening native populations of Southwest Florida animals through hands-on presentations.

- Jim Hull, owner of AIM Engineering, Lifelong Floridian Jim is a great historian and will delight audiences with his knowledge of Lee County history.

"We receive positive feedback from event surveys each year and helps grow our ability to showcase the great work of local environmental and community groups," said Ken Thompson, vice chairman of the LA-MSID Board of Commissioners. "For our sixth annual event, we have ramped up the educational offerings and activities and look forward to the continued participation of Lehigh Acres residents and businesses."

The event is made possible by the support of Mosaic, The News-Press Media Group, AIM Engineering and Surveying Inc., Public Risk Insurance Agency, Brian and Barbara Cottrell, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Audubon Society of Southwest Florida, and Coldwell Banker Preferred Properties.

For more information, visit:

Harns Marsh is located off of Sunshine Boulevard. To get there from Lee Boulevard, head north on Sunshine, turn left on Olive Avenue North, then turn left on 38th Street West and continue to Harns Marsh.



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