It's time to light up the boulevard with smiles and light up the sky with fireworks, as the Fort Myers Beach Fourth of July celebration falls upon us, as the Fourth of July hits our Beach this Sunday.
Beginning with the Fort Myers Beach Civic Association's Fourth of July Parade at 1 p.m. and finishing with the Fourth of July Fireworks Team's show at dusk, Sunday should prove to be a day of nothing but laughing and excitement for all.
"It's good clean fun for the families and the kids," said Dennis Boback, member of the Fort Myers Beach Civic Association. "Come to the Beach, enjoy the parade and stay around for the fireworks. We encourage you to patronize all of the sponsors and local merchants."
Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER.
This year, due to the Fourth of July falling on a Sunday, the parade is strolling down the boulevard a bit later than usual, around 1 p.m., starting from Topp's Supermarket and ending right around the base of the bridge.
Keep your eye out for several local groups, clubs, organizations and businesses in the parade and keep your hands up for all the goodies they'll be tossing! This year's Grand Marshal is Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott.
The fireworks show
The nighttime shoreline of Fort Myers Beach will be lit up with reds, whites and blues yet again this year, as the Fourth of July Fireworks Team, along with all of its contributors, fund-raising hosts and supporters, have done a phenomenal job raising funds for this year's show set to unleash another spectacular man-built and electronically-produced fireworks show from the Beach Pier at dusk. Expect the show to start as soon as it's dark enough to kick off the display around 8 p.m.
The Beach fireworks show has annually been regarded as the finest and most popular in all of Southwest Florida, drawing tens of thousands of people to the island and along the shoreline. Since downtown Fort Myers doesn't appear to be having their own show the first time in 23 years there is a strong anticipation for an even larger-than-normal crowd of spectators along the island.
The Beach fireworks set-up takes about two days to build, from transporting sand to the pier to placing the mortar to building the wooden framing for the grand finale and wiring everything together.
For more than 21 years, the Semmer Team has partnered with Garden State Fireworks, a team of federally licensed pyrotechnic experts who manufacture their own fireworks and are protected by a $5 million liability insurance policy and hold an outstanding safety record.
Even with the poor state of economy, this year's holiday show is expected to delight those who watch the roughly 40-minute presentation off the pier in the Times Square area. There will be paid parking in Lynn Hall Park and along Old San Carlos Boulevard. Come early to secure your spot.
"This is probably one of the biggest events for the Fourth of July celebration in Southwest Florida," said Joanne Semmer, team spokesperson for the Fireworks Team.
Fireworks fund-raisers for the show have been held since the beginning of this year, and contributing businesses, such as Bonita Bill's Waterfront Cafe, the Yucatan Beach Stand, the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, the Surf Club, the Mermaid Lounge and Liquors, Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grille and the Fort Myers Beach Golf Club are eager to see the fruits of their labor.
"We just want to thank the community very much, because we couldn't do it without their support," Joanne said.
Special trolley service July 4
Although the rest of the routes are shut down this Sunday, LeeTran will be operating two trolley routes along the Beach, in honor of Independence Day, according to Joanne Haley of LeeTran.
Trolley service from Summerlin Square on the mainland to Bowditch Park at the north end of the island will run every 40 minutes, starting at 7 a.m. The last trip off the island will drop passengers at Summerlin Square at 11:55 p.m.
Beach trolley service, which travels on Estero Boulevard from Bowditch Park to Lovers Key State Park, will run every 30 minutes, from 6:45 a.m. until the last stop at Bowditch at 11:40 p.m. Adult trolley fare is 50 cents per boarding; the discount fare (seniors 65 and up, disabled persons and students with I.D.) is 25 cents per ride. Exact change is required.
For more info, contact LeeTran Customer Service at 533-8726 (LEE-TRAN).
BOB PETCHER also contributed to this article