Sanibel hopes Shellabration 2012 sets new record for the ‘Sanibel Stoop’

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The record-setting 2012 Sanibel Stoop? Photo Credit: The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel via Facebook.

Was a new record set for the Sanibel Stoop on February 17, 2012? The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel posted the photo above to its Facebook page, along with this message: “Thank you to everyone who came out yesterday to help us break the Guinness Book Of Records number for people doing the Sanibel Stoop! The paperwork has been filed and we will let you know the official outcome as soon as we hear it!” Read more about the Sanibel Stoop and the 2012 Shellabration below (with updated information coming as soon as we can get it).

Thanks to the Ocean’s Reach Resort on Sanibel Island for recording this video of the event:


The 'Sanibel Stoop'

Shellabration! 2012, from February 26 to March 4, not only “shellabrates” the 75th anniversary of the Sanibel Shell Show & Fair, but also the islands’ shell-bent predilection.

They have a name for it on Sanibel Island in southwest Florida, that shell-bent thing. They call it the “Sanibel Stoop.” So intertwined have the island and its shells become, that Sanibel’s identity is totally invested in seashells — known as one of the top shelling destinations in the world.

Beginning in the early 1900s, the procession of shellers up and down the island’s beaches sparked a friendly competition between guests at two early local hotels – Casa Ybel and The Matthews.

Hallie “Granny” Matthews hosted the Shell Show & Fair in her hotel lobby starting in the late 1920s. By 1931, the burgeoning event moved to the Sanibel Community Association’s (SCA) Community House.

“Because it’s the 75th anniversary, we wanted to do something special,” said Marge Meek, SCA president, which hosts the event. “It shows everyone this is a shell island.” The week-long Shellabration! promises shell-mania. The festivities kick off with a mass Sanibel Stoop event on the beach on February 17. Designed to break a Guinness Book World Record in the largest shell scavenger hunt category, it urges islanders and visitors to show up for an aerial photo and to sign their names to be sent to Guinness to prove the island has broken the 208-person record.

On February 26, the Shell Fair & Show tradition returns to its roots at The Matthews, today the historic Island Inn. Traditions on the Beach, the inn’s restaurant, will host a gala “shellegant.”

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Fair activities start Wednesday with a Judges Reception Dinner at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. The public is invited. The following day, the three-day affair runs as it has for decades, with a free fair outside and a show ($3 donation) inside of hobby shell-crafters, professional shell artists, and scientific collections. Hours are Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. More than 200 exhibitors are expected in the 2012 competitive show.

“This year we’re going to be inundated by exhibitors,” predicts Anne Joffe, Shell Show chair.

The Shell Fair features shells and crafts for perusal and purchase. Visitors can watch shell-crafters at work, purchase snacks and enter a raffle for prizes.

Shellabration’s grand finale on March 4 features a local actor in the role of Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose highly revered Gift from the Sea, written on Sanibel’s sister island, Captiva, compares the stages in a woman’s life to seashells on the beach. An ice cream social follows the one-woman play.

Businesses and not-for-profits fill the week’s calendar with fossil and historic shell exhibits, guided beach walks, shelling author lectures, edible mollusk restaurant specials, specially made jewelry, and a shell-studded fashion show.

For details and updated calendar of events, visit For information on planning a vacation to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, visit

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