With a flourish of last minute budget checking and a little bit of deja vu from the Town’s last fireworks event on New Year’s Eve, the Town of Fort Myers Beach pulled the final numbers together for the Town’s 4th of July celebration and, working with the local business community, confirmed that funds were available.
In March of this year, the Fireworks Fundraising Committee, consisting of Jacki Liszak of Sea Gypsy, John Lallo of Pete’s Time Out, Andrea Carriere of Silver Sands and Bud Nocera of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce jumped into action after Town Council received a recommendation from Town Staff to cancel the 4th of July fireworks. A looming April 1st deadline without any community financial contribution triggered the decision.
After the committee appeared before council and promised fundraising to support the fireworks and council member Tracey Gore announced that the fireworks company would push their contract date back to mid-May, council postponed the decision.
Beach business owners jumped into action with a series of fundraisers aimed at raising $25,000, which the group was told was half of the total expenses for the July 4th event, including all the support costs in addition to the fireworks cost. The Town later put that figure at $20,000 before raising it back to $25,000.
The Fireworks committee presented the Town with a check for $20,000 on May 2nd, adding another $5,000 this past Monday, bringing the total to $25,000 raised by beach businesses and residents in support of fireworks on the beach.
Those efforts included fundraisers at Tuckaway Café, Norm’s Beach Parking, Gulfshore Grill plus a Fireworks Luau at the Lani Kai Resort in mid-May.
Residents and businesses really stepped up, according to Liszak.
“It’s been really amazing how great everyone has been,” said Jacki. “Businesses helped out, residents supported our events. We really could not have done it without each and every one of them!”
When the number crunching was all said and done, however, Town staff realized that trolley costs were not included in the event budget and just over $7,000 was needed to avoid putting the event in jeopardy once again.
Lani Kai owner Bob Conidaris, when informed of the need, offered to provide the $7,164 to cover the trolley costs and the show will go on!
Liszak has worked with Town Council and staff on the project and said that getting the total costs and breakdown of all the pieces that go into the 4th of July was difficult.
“We started using the New Year’s Eve costs, and those didn’t include the trolleys.”
The trolleys last New Year’s Eve were also paid for by Beach businesses, after John Lallo, owner of Pete’s Time Out, realized that there were no trolleys scheduled for the Beach’s New Year’s Eve celebration. In October 2015, Town Council decided to not fund any trolleys for holidays, including New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day and July 4th. After a flurry of communication within the Beach business community just days before the end of the year, Lallo had over $5500 to fund trolley service for New Year’s Eve.
The 4th of July celebration on Fort Myers Beach begins with the parade at 10am, continues with a hot dog eating contest at 2pm in Times Square and live music in the square from 2-11pm. The fireworks show will begin about 9pm from the pier.