Naples Daily News Weekend Digest Miss something this week? Catch up on a few of our big stories in this quick digest

Snag discounted meals during Naples Restaurant Week

Families still recovering from preparing a laborious Thanksgiving meal can catch a break at several Naples restaurants starting Thursday.

For 11 days, 25 eateries will participate in Naples Restaurant Week to celebrate local fine dining at an affordable price, while a percentage of the money raised will go toward the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County.

Patrons can dine on a three-course meal for $35 until Dec. 11.

“They can save 45 to 50 percent with the deal,” said Rocio Navarrete, who owns and operates the new El Gaucho Inca restaurant and the original Fort Myers location with her husband, chef Mariano Maldonado.

With donations lagging, Salvation Army needs bell ringers in Southwest Florida

David Deciantis spotted the Salvation Army’s ad looking for bell ringers for its signature red kettle fundraiser during the holidays and decided to give it a whirl.

“I’m loving it,” he said near his red kettle outside the Publix in Kings Lake Square in East Naples. “I get to talk to people. It’s better than sitting around.”

A former restaurant owner from Plainfield, Connecticut, who moved to Naples in 1988, the 70-year-old wished he signed up to be a bell ringer years ago.

“I just enjoy seeing the people,” Deciantis said.

Many share how The Salvation Army has helped them through tough times, he said.

“The people are generous; most people do give.”

The Salvation Army in Naples is short 15 bell ringers, and it means 15 kettle locations are not being manned. That is cutting into donations, said Maj. Dan Proctor, regional coordinator for the Naples location. Forty-five locations have bell ringers.

Cubans emotional as they watch caravan carrying Fidel Castro's ashes pass by

MATANZAS, Cuba — When the motorcade carrying Fidel Castro’s ashes approached this northern shore town's Freedom Plaza on Wednesday, the crowd lining the sidewalks, benches, rooftops, balconies and even window bars started to chant his name.

"Yo soy Fidel! (I am Fidel!)," hundreds of people shouted in Spanish. “Viva Fidel! (Long live Fidel!)."

Some carried Cuban flags, many held smartphones to record the moment, and a few cried.

And in a moment, the caravan disappeared along the street where thousands of Cubans waited for a glimpse of the urn that held Castro’s ashes and to tell him goodbye.

County, city and state leaders discuss 'Shrinking Shores' at Naples forum

The Florida lawmaker who could be in charge of the legislative subcommittee responsible for beach spending in 2017 said Wednesday he will push for more money to combat erosion across the state's coast.

"As much as we can get," state Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, told an overflow crowd at a Naples Daily News community forum on Florida's beaches. "I don't know what that looks like."

More than 160 people attended Wednesday's forum.

It followed the Daily News' four-part "Shrinking Shores" series, which explored how Florida leaders have failed the state's most important asset by not keeping commitments to pay for beach renourishment despite allowing coastal development and nearly doubling the miles of shoreline threatened by erosion.

Immokalee, Naples teens tackle big issues in 'Hairspray'

When Marie Volcy sings, the room listens.

She hauntingly belts out lyrics to “I Know Where I’ve Been,” a song about black America.

And she's only 17 years old.

"There's a dream in the future," she sings during a recent rehearsal, wearing yoga pants and a pair of red and black Michael Jordan tennis shoes.

"There's a struggle, that we have yet to win.

"And there's pride in my heart.

"'Cause I know where I'm going, yes I do, and I know where I've been."

Volcy, a black student at Immokalee High School, will play the part of Motormouth Maybelle, the all-knowing, all-seeing matriarch, in the Naples Performing Arts Center's production of "Hairspray" next weekend at Gulf Coast High School.

She is one of about 50 teens from Naples and Immokalee cast in the musical, which tackles the issues of racial discrimination in the 1960s.

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