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Council to consider BOOM’s! future

April 17, 2014
Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

If one of Southwest Florida's biggest July 4th celebrations is to continue, it will be up to the city of Cape Coral to decide if it wants that responsibility.

If it does, it is believed the event could be result in some black ink for the city budget.

The city council during its regular meeting on Monday is expected to debate, and perhaps vote on, whether to take on the financial and manpower burden to put on "Red, White & BOOM!," downtown, which features one of the largest fireworks displays in the region.

"The question is whether the city can step in and take over and bring in the necessary sponsors," said city spokesperson Connie Barron, "It's the largest fireworks show in Southwest Florida and it brings in thousands throughout the area."

Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pohlman is expected to propose the city to conduct the event using budgeted resources with no additional money from the general fund.

The Chamber of Commerce ended its commitment to host the Independence Day festival on Cape Coral Parkway because it was unable to secure a three-year agreement with a main sponsor for the event, which in recent years has drawn between 20,000 and 30,000 spectators.

In a memo to council, Pohlman said the current city budget includes $30,000 for police, fire, and EMS services as well as $20,000 for fireworks. Those numbers are based on last year's costs, according to council member and CRA chairwoman Rana Erbrick.

"All these people come in one afternoon. It provides a boon to the businesses and the recognition of having one of the largest fireworks displays and parties in the area," Erbrick said.

"These resources normally provided to the Chamber of Commerce to produce the event would be utilized by the Parks and Recreation Department Special Events Division as a starting point to produce the event in 2014," Pohlman said in the memo.

Pohlman also said that staff believes an additional $59,300 in revenue could be attained through vendor/food booth sales, beverage concession, and trade outs for support services.

As far as staffing, Pohlman said he was confident the Chamber and the Special Events department would assume a good chunk of volunteers.

"You could look at this event to be done by the city that potentially has a revenue income of close to $10,000," Erbrick said. "We are going to need a lot of support, so we're going to be reaching out to service organizations to help with that."

If council rejects the idea, Barron said it could spell doom for "Boom"

Erbrick said she wants the event to continue.

"This event has been a tradition and I'd hate for it to go away. It will take lots of volunteers, but the city has always proved its volunteers step up," Erbrick said. "But if the council doesn't vote for this, it could mean the end."

Councilmember Rick Williams took a similar view - if the numbers work as presented.

"It's an event I would like to see continue because any event is a way to bring people together in the city," he said. "If it can be pulled off, I would absolutely agree with it."

He added one caveat.

"Any further investment over and above what has been budgeted could be a problem because of our very limited resources right now," Williams said.



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