This week’s Third Wednesday Coffee, the monthly membership meeting for members of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, will have a new holiday “We Shopped Local” gift exchange. And you can, too.

Chamber board president Justin Brand, who is with the Charlotte Community Foundation, has asked that member attendees wishing to participate in the gift exchange make their purchases from local chamber members. They are to then bring their unwrapped gifts with them Wednesday morning and a drawing will be held for participants during the program.

This is a fabulous and festive way to have fun, forget about other “things” for a few minutes, and support our local businesses. (I like plants, chocolate and jewelry … in no particular order.)

Inaugural Remote Control Car Christmas Parade prep continues

You know how you hear that parade preparation begins a year in advance, or even more, for events with names such as Mummer’s, Rose and Mardi Gras? Well not this one. Nope.

About 12 days from idea to parade day and we seem to be good-to-go. Word on the street is that crews are working in a variety of miniature garages and shops (and a few kitchen counters and dining room tables) to prepare their parade entries.

There are plenty of local businesses with remote control vehicles for sale in all sizes and varieties. They just need to be ground based (no fancy flying machines) and battery operated.

We have retained experienced parade chairman Ed Hill, Lightspeed Voice, to again serve as parade chairman. It is a monumental task of assigning parade lineup and spacing, coordinating traffic flow, and preventing mass chaos.

This next part is a secret. We will also have guaranteed assistance from a genuine former NASCAR pit crew member. He will serve as the Official Parade Emergency Services/Wrecker Operator.

Oh wait, I keep forgetting. TINY, this is a TINY, indoor, private, socially distanced, face-covered, indoor, chamber member event. (See? Not only do we support and advocate for the business community, we have a good time while doing it.)

10th Annual Hottest Business Day in Paradise Expo coming up next

First and foremost, face masks will be required at all times during the Feb. 10 business expo at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center in Punta Gorda.

There. Now that we have that clear, there will also be a few other modifications such as marks on the floor for social distancing purposes, counters to ensure proper attendee flow, and no unwrapped food items or open serve beverages.

You can imagine how much I dislike leading off with that instead of the fun stuff, but it is obviously necessary.

But hey, we have so many local businesses participating so far that I don’t have space left to list them all this week. The sponsors (thank you) to date are: Platinum Title Sponsors, Chapman Insurance Group and Total Air Solutions; Gold Presenting Sponsor, Burnt Store Title and Escrow; Bronze Participating Sponsors, Life Care Center of Punta Gorda; The Mortgage Firm and The Mosaic Company; Business After Party Sponsor, Elite Inspections and Pest Solutions; Print Sponsor, Buffalo Graffix; Newspaper Sponsor, Sun Coast Media Group; Radio Sponsor, iHeart Media; Lanyard Sponsor, Chapman Insurance Group; and Event Bag Sponsor, Whitco Insurance-Alexia Martin Agency.

The sponsorship levels can include lots of benefits such as the exhibitor booth space(s), promotional perks, print and digital advertising, party tickets, and more than ever before. All of the details are available on the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce website at or by calling 941-627-2222.

Teri Ashley is the executive director of the Charlotte County Chamber of Commerce, now in its 96th year. She can be reached at 941-627-2222 or at