The Town of Fort Myers Beach turns 18 years old today and will honor the occasion with a birthday party in Times Square most of the day.
While New Year's Eve is a national event that begins the turning of another year and features formal parties, family-oriented activities and large public activities, the day and evening are special from another standpoint for Town officials, residents and visitors.
On Dec. 31, 1995, the Beach separated from Fort Myers with an incorporation to unify, create and establish its own township and possess all governmental, corporate and proprietary powers that would enable it to conduct municipal government. The Town charter was established "to promote the general welfare and common good of the community by providing the framework for a municipal corporation to exercise municipal home rule powers under the Constitution and laws of the State of Florida."
From free cupcakes to fireworks and live entertainment in between, the Town knows how to throw a party to celebrate the New Year on Dec. 31. New Year's Eve also marks the Town's incorporation. Happy 18th birthday!
"I think it's wonderful that we are 18 years old," said Beach Mayor Alan Mandel. "I think the Town has many, many good years to look forward to."
To celebrate, Town officials have planned their annual birthday party to include free giveaways, free cupcakes, live entertainment and, of course, fireworks at midnight. It is time to ring in the New Year with a birthday party and fireworks display in the all-day festival-style tribute.
The no-cost event will kick off with live entertainment with the musical group "The Manipulators" on the Times Square stage at noon.
Matanzas Pass Bridge will be closed to oncoming traffic between midnight and 1:30 p.m. There will be two lanes set up to allow drivers of vehicles to drive off the Beach during that time.
LeeTran trolley service will be extended until 2 a.m. for New Year's Eve party-goers to enjoy the festivities on Fort Myers Beach.
Fort Myers Beach's New Year's celebration offers live music throughout the day, and a midnight ball drop at Times Square followed by fireworks. LeeTran will operate its regular trolley service until 6:30 p.m. After 6:30 p.m. there will be two routes in service. One route, from Summerlin Square to Bowditch Park and back, will operate approximately every 15 minutes. The second route, from Bowditch Park to Lovers Key and back, will operate approximately every 20 minutes. The fare is 50 cents per adult for each ride, or riders may purchase a 24-hour trolley pass for $1.50 from the driver.
For more information on the Fort Myers Beach event, visit http://www.fortmyersbeach.org/
At 1 p.m., volunteers and Town staff will be disseminating 1,000 cupcakes from an information booth. The mountain of sweetness is sponsored by Cupcakes in Paradise, a relatively new business on the Beach at 401 Old San Carlos Blvd. Giveaways such as cups and frisbees will also be handed out.
Live entertainment, which also feature some of the Town's street performers, will continue for most of the afternoon. There will be a one-hour break from 5 to 6 p.m. At that time, "High Tide" will take the stage.
The party continues with the National Anthem at 11:55 p.m. Afterwards, the ball drop will take place at midnight and the fireworks display follows.
The Beach Council has once again approved to waive the restriction on open containers of alcohol in Times Square only during the birthday party and New Year's celebration.
Once again, Garden State Fireworks has been retained to provide the fireworks show. Ranked as the No. 1 pyrotechnics firm, the team of federally licensed pyrotechnic experts who manufacture their own fireworks has produced an eye-popping electrical show that keeps Beach residents and visitors returning each year.
Keep in mind, Matanzas Pass Bridge will be closed to oncoming traffic from midnight to 1:30 a.m. Two lanes of traffic will be set up to allow drivers of vehicles to drive off the Beach during that time.
"Everyone can expect a very fun time. Times Square will be filled with lots of people. The tents will be hopping," said Town Parks & Recreation Director Randy Norton, who is organizing the days' events. "The fireworks will be a spectacular show. The guys have told me they are throwing in a few extras this year."