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Family enjoys 50-year tradition of vacationing on the Beach

August 14, 2019
By JORDAN HESTER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

For many families, vacation is more than a time, it's a place.

For one family, that place is Fort Myers Beach, their destination of choice now for 50 years.

"It began so long ago, when me and my siblings were young, and it's really grown into this massive ordeal that we've come to cherish," Donna Rollins said

Article Photos

The Pro family has been vacationing on Fort Myers Beach for 50 years.


The Pro family began coming down to the Beach as two parents and six children.

The vacation trip has grown encompass five generations.

And what started as a small grouping of rooms at the Pink Shell has evolved into renting several waterfront cottages in mid-beach, with each family housing up to 8-10 people, depending on the size of the home.

"We've been coming out here since we were little. We brought our children out almost from birth, and they have brought their children. Every two years for 50 years so far, with the eldest from our generation turning 70 this trip," Rollins said

They have their own traditions.

Empanada night is an age old tradition started by Donna's mother, which has been passed down, is something the entire family looks forward to.

Games are played the entire vacation: Volleyball, beach soccer, football, you name it, they do it, and they are competitive about it, often claiming long drawn out victories for years to come.

Freedom is something every person here says they've got more of here than anywhere else, no matter the age.

"Nobody's really over anyone's shoulders. Most of us kids just hang out and roam up and down the beachfront. It's always very exciting to see everyone and spend time just hanging out. It's a lot of mutual respect among all of us; doors are always open to family and friends down here," Layla Rose, 15, said.

The younger generations definitely enjoy the slowed-down lifestyle on the beach, but it's not without surprises.

"We were walking along the beach one morning to check out the sea turtles, because none of us have ever actually gotten the chance to see them, and I stumbled across a small grouping of babies that were kind of lost in one of the morning puddles on the beach, so we found one of the environmental guys further down and he helped make sure they got to the ocean proper, so we kind of saved them," Lindsey Paquin, 17, said.

From moving an organ up three flights of stairs to deep sea fishing, this family can truly say they have experienced almost everything on the beach and try to bring their own traditions as well.

"We have certain nights where we celebrate everyone, alive or dead, we tell old stories, sing old songs. We just want to remember everything fondly, regardless of if they're still with us or not," Mike Pro said.

They celebrated two birthdays this year. Debby turned 70 and Donna turned 69, but the torch really has been passed to the younger crowd.

"It's something I think our family is always going to do. Honestly, we've been down here forever and I don't see any reason we'd stop," Jackson, 14, said.



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