Bye-bye hurricanes, hello holidays! Thanksgiving weekend offers family-friendly events

The loaded Thanksgiving dinner table is only the start of the November holidays that sweep over Southwest Florida. This is one important weekend for two reasons:

1. It is — drum roll here — the official end of hurricane season.

2. It opens tourism season, celebrating it with a raft of events so fascinating, we'll walk off the pumpkin pie seeing everything and forget everything about the dinner. Except the stuffing, of course.

Here are four sights for your visiting family or perhaps just your holiday-at-home self, that we'll bet you've never seen before:

1. STICKWORK sculpture

Patrick Dougherty loved to ramble through the woods in the North Carolina country where he grew up. He still rambles through the woods — and on top of them and around them.

STICKWORK, the company formed for his commissioned sculptures, uses willow saplings to both weave and build fanciful sculptures like the one that has been emerging at the Naples Botanical Garden over the last three weeks. Attentive to his environment, Dougherty's open-roof 70-by-15-foot creation suggests the waves that lap up from the Gulf of Mexico barely a mile away.

Artist Patrick Dougherty walks around the STICKWORK piece on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021 at the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, Fla.
Artist Patrick Dougherty walks around the STICKWORK piece on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021 at the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, Fla.

Dougherty's team does a site visit for every piece to get to know the surrounding area and the people who will be seeing it. Keeping it open at the top "lets you see that blue sky," he said. Fat entrances with undulating personalities are, not coincidentally, large enough to admit wheelchairs. "And feel these breezes — they can come right through," he said.

"Sea Change" has other touches that look whimsical but have thoughtful underpinnings: A saucy little triangle doorway likely meant just for children. Huge windows to show off the blooming sky vine next to it.

Dougherty says his stick works have been used for weddings, performances and dance, and it's obvious he loves the creativity that springs up around them: "Activities reinvigorate the sculpture."

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The work, which was finished Friday, Nov. 19, will be in the garden for two years, and will get a special glow for Johnsonville Lights in the Garden. A companion exhibition, "The Art of STICKWORK" is in Kapnick Hall at the garden through Jan. 9. It offers photos of his other fantastical sapling sculpture, along with narratives on Dougherty's process, preferred materials and philosophy about his natural materials.

Where: Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples

When: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, with early opening 8-9 a.m. for members only

Admission: $25, ages 4-17, $10 (this does not include Night Lights in the Garden, which is a separate charge)

To buy: or 239-643-7275

Something else: Bring the dog 9-11 a.m. Sundays and Tuesdays; if this is Rover's first visit, you'll need to fill out an informational form

And those night lights: Johnsonville Night Lights in the Garden, featuring the gardens decked out in holiday lights and with entertainment everywhere, is at Naples Botanical Garden Nov. 26 – Dec. 23, Dec. 26 – Dec. 30, 2021, and Jan. 1 – 2. 6-9 p.m. through Dec. 16, then 6-10 p.m. Thousands of lights illuminate the Garden during the 12th annual Night Lights in the Garden. Entertainment, food available. Through Dec. 16, $30, $14 ages 4 – 17 ($15, $7 members); beginning Dec. 17, $36, $16 ($18, $8 members).

2. Quick Draw Naples

Ready, set, flow!

The creativity whooshes out and the paint follows. One of the more exciting morning opportunities for Saturday will be to prowl through Quick Draw Naples, where more than 50 artists — rising-star, seasoned, realist, abstract, colorist, subdued — converge on Cambier Park to create works for an auction to benefit Legal Aid Services of Collier County.

Come early and watch the beginnings of a morning masterpiece at 9 a.m., then wander off for breakfast and shopping and return just in time for the 12:30 p.m. auction. Or stop somewhere among the myriad of dining spots within two blocks of Cambier Park for lunch and come in time to see the finished projects and bid.

Or bring your coffee and park yourself for the morning, because you'll get a nearly continuous concert. Bands devoting their talent to help Legal Aid include Roots Almighty, Moonstone Riders and The RaDar Kats, featuring flautist Kat Eppel, Ray Nesbit and Darrell Nutt.

Attendees will receive wristbands that will allow them to come and go. The ambitious can even trot the four blocks over to another art event, the Uptown Art Fair (see category below)

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Sixty percent of the proceeds benefit Legal Aid Service of Collier County and its critical work assisting children who are abused, neglected, abandoned or otherwise at risk. Forty percent goes to the artists for the time and materials they bring to the annual event.

Laura Barnard, founder of the event, starts naming the artists who excite her, and you have to stop her because she loves the whole list. But she's particularly intrigued with newcomer Cory Patterson, who is working on wood with collage and plans neon running through it.

"I can't wait to see that," she said.

Muffy Clark Gill at the Quick Draw at the 2019 Quick Draw at Naples Beach Hotel.
Muffy Clark Gill at the Quick Draw at the 2019 Quick Draw at Naples Beach Hotel.

A good number of these names may sound familiar: stars like Cesar Aguilera ,Paul Arsenault, Paula Brody, Juan Diaz, Phil Fisher, Popo Flanigan, Muffy Clark Gill, Natalie Guess, Anna Rac, Sir Roland Richardson and Marcus Zotter.

But count on seeing new luminaries like Jill Gordon, Manon Sander, Brian Weaver of Artsemble Underground and work from the independent tattoo artist known as Mully.

Where: Cambier Park, 755 Eighth Ave. S., Naples

When: 9 a.m.-noon; art auction starts at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 27

Admission: Suggested donation $5

Information: or

Something else: Want to come but can't? You can still make a donation to Legal Aid of Collier County at either website

3. Hunt Slonem's Zoo

This may not be the usual season for bunnies. But bunnies they are, a hoard of hares posing by the dozens in artist Hunt Slonem's critter-centric works. And they're as irresistible in November as they are in April.

Paintings starring the rabbits, gimlet-eyed parrots, peacocks and more are in "Hunt Slonem's Zoo," a new show at the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples (GCMON). It's supplied by the Harmon-Meek Gallery, where Slonem quirky, colorful works have been a staple for years. Kristine Meek, a member of the board, worked with the museum on the exhibition, which is apparently a first for Slonem. His works have been in exhibitions on every continent but Antarctica, but never in a children's museum.

One of the "rabbit rooms" in "Hunt Slonem's Zoo" at the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples.
One of the "rabbit rooms" in "Hunt Slonem's Zoo" at the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples.

Before you saddle up for the museum, you need to know: Adults must be accompanied by a child to visit. Conversely, children must be accompanied by an adult.

"The exhibitions in our museum are an experience that has been curated for families to do together," explained Beth Housewert, senior director of play and learning for GCMON. "Hunt Slonem's Zoo," for example, has narrative labels with each piece that have guiding questions for parents. How many rabbits do you see? Are they different from each other?

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Several of the pieces also have hands-on learning stations nearby, such as Slonem's "Georgia Peach," a veritable troop of rabbits at attention on a peach field. Children can play with the wooden rabbit cutouts nearby to create their own marching order or to mimic the painting. (The blocks are sanitized often and switched out daily for cleaning. The entire museum also gets an electrostatic sanitizing fog daily.)

Many of the exhibitions have similar interactive components. There's also a pop-up demonstration at 11 a.m. and story times at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily. The title this week sounds particularly relevant: "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey."

Where: Golisano Children's Museum of Naples, 15080 Livingston Road, Naples

When: Now through Feb. 19. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily except for Wednesdays (9 a.m. opening for members)

Admission: $12 ages 1-17; $10 adults

Information: or 239-514-0084

4. Uptown Art Festival

The young Design District, with its decor and home construction and accessories trades, links arms with the United Arts Council and Howard Alan events for its second post-Thanksgiving Uptown Art Festival.

In its second year, the festival has gone high tech, putting its map of artists on a web page that visitors can access on their phones at

But not to worry. The United Arts Council will have some lists of artists at entry points for those who are technologically challenged. There are a lot of artists to look for, too — 155, according to Laura Burns, executive director of the UAC. After a year of pandemic, she said, there's a lot of interest in being out in public again.

"We're just grateful we can have this festival, and the artists are happy to have it on a holiday weekend," she said.

The Uptown artists include 30 regional ones and talent from around the U.S. offering two-dimensional art, sculpture, jewelry, home accessories and wearables.

There are some food vendors, but Burns emphasized that dining spots in and adjacent to the festival are also meant to be part of the mix: longtime restaurants like Bill's Cafe, and newcomers like Narrative Coffee Roasters, Dough with a Hole and Yacht Club Subs. The businesses in the Design District, including galleries like Muzyka, owned by longtime Naples artist Arturo Carerra and his wife.

"Searching for a Leap of Faith," by Arturo Correa, at Muzyka Art Space, a new gallery in the Design District where the Uptown Art Festival is happening.
"Searching for a Leap of Faith," by Arturo Correa, at Muzyka Art Space, a new gallery in the Design District where the Uptown Art Festival is happening.
Harper Goodin's text embellished art is among that at the Uptown Arts Festival this year.
Harper Goodin's text embellished art is among that at the Uptown Arts Festival this year.

Part of the proceeds go to the programs of the UAC, including its education programs for children, low-cost and free events for the community and affordable workshops. Burns said she's happy it's the same weekend as the Quick Draw event at Cambier Park for another good cause, so people can stroll between the two.

"It's perfect," she said.

When: 10-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 27-28

Where: 10th Street South from Central Avenue to Fifth Avenue South

Admission: Free

Information: or call 239-254-8242

Something else: Can't come? You can still make a donation to the United Arts Council of Collier County at

Harriet Howard Heithaus covers arts and entertainment for the Naples Daily News/ Reach her at 239-213-6091.

This article originally appeared on Naples Daily News: Things to do Thanksgiving weekend in Naples: Quick Draw, Stickwork