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Cracker Dinner tickets available for night hosted by historical society, mc’d by Frank Mann

February 7, 2018
By ERIC DeVAUX ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

This year's Cracker Dinner will not only bring together some of Lee County's oldest families, the fundraiser for the Southwest Florida Historical Society will showcase favorites from renowned entertainers who have taken the spotlight here in the past.

Local performers will re-enact legends Liberace, Red Skelton, Debbie Reynolds, Carol Burnett, Minnie Pearl, Rudy Vallee, Yvonne DeCarlo and others on Feb. 19 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theater.

Alva resident and Lee County Commissioner Frank Mann will be the master of ceremonies for the event that will include a buffet dinner along with the show.

"'Cracker' is an expression applied to Southerners years ago," said Mann of the event that has been held in Southwest Florida for the last 25-30 years. "Some people think it had to do with ox teams that drove down here and they'd have a big old black snake whip that would crack as they drove the oxen and those were the whip crackers."

Mann himself is a lifelong resident of Lee.

"I've lived history here for 76 years and I'm very interested in the development and the history and how we got here," Mann said. "If you understand the history, it'll give you some indication what the future is going to look like."

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He was born in Fort Myers.

"At the original Lee Memorial Hospital which was an old three-story frame building on Victoria Street, four months before Pearl Harbor," Mann Said.

His Southwest Florida roots go deeper.

"On my mother's side, her grandfather was here in the early 1900s," Mann said.

He has seen a lot of development since he has been around.

"Some would call it progress," Mann said.

To share his knowledge, Frank is thankful to be apart of the annual Cracker Dinner.

"I'm just honored to be asked to be the emcee this year," Mann said.

The buffet dinner will stars at 5:30 p.m. and the program will begin at 7 p.m.

Tickets cost $35 and must be purchased by Feb. 14. They are available at Barbee & Sons, 1936 Grace Avenue in Fort Myers, Sam Galloway Ford, 1800 Boy Scout Drive in Fort Myers, and the Southwest Florida Historical Society, at 10091 McGregor Blvd. which is on the campus of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts.

Checks also may also be mailed to the Southwest Florida Historical Society, P. O. Box 1381, Fort Myers, Fl., 33902. Tickets can be picked up at the door on Feb. 19.

Funds raised at the annual dinner will be used to support the mission of the Southwest Florida Historical Society which is dedicated to preserving the history of our area by archiving donated historical documents, photos and maps and stimulating public interest and appreciation for local history.

The annual Cracker Dinner is sponsored by Barbee & Sons, Sam Galloway Ford, and Susan Bennett Marketing & Media, L.C.

Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre is at 1380 Colonial Blvd, Fort Myers



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