Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sun-N-Fun RV resort still a community after 50 years

The Sun-N-Fun RV Resort is now one of Southwest Florida's largest mobile home and RV parks -- a Sarasota landmark celebrating its 50th anniversary that continues to attract tourists and the same winter guests year after year.

It was half a century ago that three Ohio couples set out on a mission to build a recreation center off a then-unpaved portion of Fruitville Road that is now a short drive east of Interstate 75.

A decade in, they actually started to make money from their efforts.

The Hysells, Marvin and Marilyn Keyser, and Duane and Evelyn Werstler had their share of doubts and struggles during their first years of financial hardship.

Introducing camp sites to the park officially changed the game and gave the couples a taste of the comfortable lives they would eventually lead.

A flood at the Myakka State Park revealed an opportunity to the owners. The Sun-N-Fun grounds, at 18 feet above sea level, were ideal for camping.

The 175-acre park grew from accommodating only a few hundred trailers to about 1,000 when the three couples sold it in 1978.

Sun-N-Fun now has more than 1,500 sites for RVs to settle in for a week or the whole winter season.

And guests barely have to leave the resort, with a restaurant, poolside bar and grill, entertainment and many activities within footsteps.

"It's like living in a bubble," said current manager Tim Deputy. "You don't really have to leave it. If we had a Wal-Mart here, they'd never leave."
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