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Sixth annual Popeyepalooza to help two causes

June 3, 2015
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Popeyepalooza began as a simple gathering at Mike "Popeye" Dearden's home one year. As a professional chef for more than 30 years, he cooked up an enormously fantastic barbecue spread, had some friends and acquaintances over, and just took up a donation/collection to help the local kids. From there it has grown and grown to become what we have today.

After the biggest turnout yet last year, Popeye is planning for this year's Popeyepalooza VI benefit to crush the last, with more than $7,500 worth of prizes up for grabs, all donated by local island businesses and residents.

Taking place at the Beach Pub, 1668 I St., Sunday, June 7, starting at noon, benefit-goers can look forward to all-day live entertainment, raffles, prizes and 50/50s, silent auctions, and, no Popeye gathering would be complete without his prestigious, well-known smoked barbecue treats.

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"With the benefit only a few days away, we're rolling along great. In the end, we'll have over $7,500 in booty to give away in door prizes and silent auctions. And I have a feeling this one's going to be huge. It's been growing and growing and we love it. All the help we've got, boy, oh boy!" Popeye, lead coordinator and founder of his Popeyepalooza benefits, all raising funds to assist The Fort Myers Beach Soccer Club and the Beach Little League, two great, local youth sports groups that encourage enjoyment of the great outdoors while supplying a safe place for children to play.

"As for live music, Sean Bright and Jason Ryan will kick off the day, from noon to 1 p.m.; Tommy V, 1:30 to 2:30; Anthony Wayne, 3 to 4; and playing out the rest of the day will be the John Allender Blues Band," Popeye said.

Sponsorships by local businesses increased the size of the benefit exponentially and include Local Color, Nervous Nellie's, Bonita Bill's, The Mermaid, the Lighthouse Resort, Mango Street Inn, Valerie's Lounge, Casey's Place, Primerica, Krusty Pete's, the Beach Pub, the Lani Kai, the Munch Box, Bootlegger's BBQ, Pete's Timeout and the Florida Helps Foundation.

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"Our awesome T-shirts were manufactured by Krusty Pete's," Pop said. "I enjoy the fact that I got a wonderful 15 to 20 volunteers to help us that day, and Krusty Pete's donated special commemorative hats for all of the crew."

Popeye is eager to state that no individual raffle prize or package will be worth less than $50, so come one, come all to get your tickets and/or place those bids.

"Mayor Anita Cereceda and her Times Square shop, Local Color, donated a beautiful, hand-made, hand-painted, gold-leaf gilded 3-foot tall Philippine St. Nicholas statue ($350 value)!" Popeye said. "A private contributor gave us a stylish Beach Cruiser bicycle ($300 value); 'Fiberglass' Bob and 'Shamrock' Mary Gutierrez donated an awesome Dell Latitude Laptop Computer with Windows 8.1, dual core processor, DVD burner, and more ($450 value); Pink Shell donated a resort package worth $660; Beach Accommodations gave us two two-night stays in their villas ($320 value, each); Matanzas Inn gave us a two-night stay to go along with their restaurant gift certificate ($230 value), and Key West Express sent us a round trip ticket ($125 value). I have also received an email from Cason Photography studios of Tampa. They are sending us three photography packages for the silent auctions each one worth $650! And that's just the tip of the iceberg, so bring your cash and checkbooks for the raffles and silent auctions, folks!"

As for the tasty barbecued portion of the fund-raiser, Pop already started prepping his smoked meats, so they'll be perfectly succulent and savory that day. Look forward to smoked barbecue chicken, babyback ribs, Pop's world-famous BBQ baked beans, homemade coleslaw, rolls and butter and potato chips. At $10 a plate, that's not only a tantalizing meal, but walk off knowing all of that money is going to the kids' causes.

"I want to give a big thanks to Bruiser Jungwirth and the Surf and Us Resort, along with Sunset on the Beach Vacations, for their phenomenal sponsorship of the food this year. Thanks to them, all money that's paid for the food platters will go to the cause," Popeye said. "And I also want to be sure to give a big shout-out to Tim Miller and Lou and Dina Caleca at the Beach Pub, all my fantastic musicians, and all of our wonderful businesses who contributed generously. This has turned into a huge event every year because of the people of the beach, all coming out for a good time and a good cause. We shattered our records last year and hope to crush that this year."

For further information, or to help Popeye however you can for the cause, find the Facebook Event Page: "Popeyepalooza VI" or call Mike "Popeye" Dearden, 239-244-4437. Also, if, for whatever reason, you can't make it out to the benefit Sunday, an online contribution page has been set up, where you can place an electronic donation to the cause all throughout June.Visit



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