Last October, ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort & Spa recommended we check out “Ding” Darling Days at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, a superb attraction on Sanibel Island, just 7 miles from the resort. ‘Tween Waters Inn is one of the sponsors of the annual event, and there’s another “Ding”-‘Tweenies connection, too.
Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling, a Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist and outspoken conservationist of the early 1900s, pushed for the establishment of the refuge and also invented the Federal Duck Stamp program. He wintered at ‘Tween Waters Inn for many years, and today one of its historic cottages bears his name.
This year’s “Ding” Days runs Oct. 16-22, kicking off with an all-free Sunday Family Fun Day. You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy free admission to Wildlife Drive, free tram tours, archery clinics, and great programs with live animals. Specifically for adults, this year’s “Saving the Birds in the Everglades” historical reenactment pays homage to the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial celebration in 2016.
Throughout the week, expert speakers, discounted recreational tours, and free birding and other refuge tours take place. On Friday, celebrate Darling’s 140th birthday with free cake!
Saturday Conservation Art Day is another highlight, honoring Darling for his duck stamp initiative with duck stamp winner presentations and nature art activities. I loved the free photography workshop tram tour. Wildlife Drive admission is also free that day for everyone.