Pam Rambo, center, proudly shares the Shell Love Bug with Shell Festival visitors at the 2017 Shell Festival at the Community House. SC file photo
Pam Rambo, center, proudly shares the Shell Love Bug with Shell Festival visitors at the 2017 Shell Festival at the Community House. SC file photo

The Shell Love Bug, a fixture in parades and events on the islands the past few years, is now under wraps and looks like it's going to stay that way for at least the near future.

Sanibel sea shell expert Pam Rambo decorated the Volkswagen Beetle in shells and is always with the car when it's on display. She told the Lee County Commissioners last week that she was promised the car for which Lee County paid $7,500.

According to a report in the News-Press, Rambo has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers that claims the county, in addition to promising her the car, has violated a copyright agreement Rambo filed in December by exhibiting the car in public without her permission.

Lee County is disputing the claim that Rambo was promised ownership of the car and that no individual employee of the county has the authority to make a deal to transfer ownership to Rambo. The ornate car currently is in the possession of the county and not being used.

"Because their marketing campaign and marketing firm could not come up with any ideas that were acceptable, I came up with the idea and design for Shell Love Bug," Rambo said during public comment period at Tuesday's meeting of Lee County commissioners and reported by the News-Press. "(VCB Communications Director) Francesca Donlan told me that if I could make my vision of Shell Love Bug come to fruition, the county would give me the car they paid $7,500 for."

Rambo told the commissioners that the decoration of the Shell Love Bug was a community project with many residents donating both time and shells to its creation.