After weeks of promoting and pushing and passing on this event from one friend to the other, to the other, to the other, Fort Myers Beach's Hands Across the Sand demonstration, organized by local political activist and islander John Heim, will be taking place this weekend Saturday, June 26.
"With all of the people expected to come, I am envisioning our human chain to go beyond the DiamondHead," John said. "This is more than just a 15-minute demonstration. This is a celebration all throughout Fort Myers Beach to show that we are free of oil and we are open for business."
John, who has been a political activist for years, recently having a one-on-one conversation with President Obama about local issues shortly after his inauguration into office last year, is sure to reiterate that this event is completely non-political.
Set up to show love for Fort Myers Beach and nearby areas, as well as show “FMB is Oil Free,” a Hands Across the Sand demonstration will take place Saturday, June 25, with hand-holding from noon to 12:15 p.m. During the day, plenty of things will be going on at Lynn Hall Park, as well as the FMB community.
"This is a totally non-political event. We want people lined up on that beach to show that we love our island to show appreciation toward our beach and we're showing the world we're open for business. Now it's time to pay back to the businesses, to support them during these struggling times."
Of the many local businesses, Sunstream Resorts has had its share of panicked would-be visitors, calling in, worried that the oil spill is creeping toward our area.
"We've definitely gotten phone calls with people panicking, but they're not getting the right information," said Michelle Moran, communications specialist of the company. "Many guests are past guests and trust our feedback. Also, we have set up an oil spill committee, which proactively meets once a week, with all of the executive team of Sunstream onboard."
Hands Across the Sand
When: Saturday, June 26., sign-in at 11 a.m., human
chain at noon. Specials on the island all day
Where: Meet at pier near Lynn Hall Park, north end
What: Raising awareness of the oil spill, promoting
business and showing our beach is still clean.
With their own oil spill committee, Michelle said Sunstream sends email blasts to past guests, updates the affect or lack there of of our area and provides a regularly updated map of the spill location, which John explained Ostego Bay Marine Science Center's Joanne Semmer said has a 10 percent chance or lower of affecting Fort Myers Beach in any way, shape or form.
Michelle said Joanne, who is also a member of the Department of Environmental Protection, speaks with the committee regularly, "to get factual information and educate the more-than 500 employees."
Visit Sunstream.com for the updated oil spill map, live blog and special offers within the company, including two new promotions that recently began.
"This is more than just a 15-minute demonstration," John said. "Come to the island, stay for the weekend. Enjoy the beach. Rekindle the revenue of a struggling economy as we head way into off-season and the oil spill. Enjoy our local businesses. Rent a bicycle. Stay the night at one of our resorts. Enjoy it with your family. Education starts at a very young age. It's important for families to come down with their children to support this cause to show right versus wrong. This is a definitely a 'right' scenario."
All Saturday morning, Chapel By the Sea and Topp's Supermarket have donated their parking lots for free use, but it's still advised to car pool, as there's definitely a possibility of traffic backing up.
Be sure to stop by local businesses before and after the event, as many area establishments are "joining hands" and offering many specials throughout the day to show their support.
"Starting June 26th, from that point forward is our chance to show our children that we are no longer the name of the nameless and the face of the faceless," John said. "Without having hands and legs, then we will crawl to make sure our message is heard. We don't want to just let this die after one day. We want to continue to show our support and have a clean, safe place to play for our children."
He is sure to push the intent for proactiveness.
"We're being complete proactive, taking pictures every day, emailing them to show how beautiful our island looks, webcams set up anything to reassure that our island is oil-free," he said. "The only thing we want to leave on our beach is our footsteps. Whatever items our demonstrators may take with them on the beach, please make sure to clean up after yourself."
John plans to shake each and every hand of those who attend the event. So far, going only by the organization's Facebook fan page, there are 253 confirmed guests attending, but as the word spreads beyond the electronic world, it is unknown as to what the potential of hand-holders will actually be.
Down around Lynn Hall Park and the pier, there will be many community, wildlife and nature groups set up, offering help and services of all sorts.
For more information on the Hands Across the Sand group and event, visit HandsAcrossTheSand.com or search them on Facebook. To volunteer for the cause, contact John Heim at 878-0881.