If you want to enjoy an All-American Fourth of July, spend your Holiday on Fort Myers Beach!
“Fireworks will shoot off the end of the Fort Myers Beach Pier,” exclaimed Sarah Mayher, Lead Program Coordinator for the Parks & Recreation Department for the Town of Fort Myers Beach that hosts the activities. “Fireworks are rain-or-shine that go off at 9 p.m. Fortunately, severe weather has never forced the Town to cancel the magnificent display, but should there be a threat of lightning in the area, we reserve the right to begin the show anytime between 8:45 to 9:15 p.m., so plan to arrive a little on the early side should we have to start before 9 p.m. We tell everyone to expect a 15-minute display, but because the Town enjoys an excellent relationship with Garden State Fireworks for our New Year’s Eve and Fourth of July shows, generally the displays last a little longer than that!”
In a refreshing change of pace from the past several years, Town Council at its June 3 meeting, without argument or debate, unanimously approved $27,000 to Garden State Fireworks to completely fund The Fourth of July show.
While the fireworks are obviously the highlight of the night, the Town also sponsors the 13th annual Fourth of July Parade that morning! “It begins at the Bay Oaks Recreational Center at 2731 Oaks Street at 10 a.m.,” Sarah said. “It will come down Bay Road, then turn north on Estero Boulevard, similar to the route of the annual Shrimp Festival Parade each March. Several of the floats will cross the Matanzas Pass Bridge while others will proceed down Old San Carlos Boulevard before routing back to Bay Oaks, with the Parade lasting roughly 90 minutes.”
Sarah explained that the Bay Oaks Recreational Center closes on the Fourth of July “because most of the Town’s Parks & Recreation Department is busy preparing for fireworks that night. The Beach Pool that is adjacent to Bay Oaks, however, is open its standard holiday hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., so we encourage everyone who watches the parade to come to the pool when it ends, to jump in and cool off, as we all know how hot the weather is here on the Fourth of July! We will have Parks & Recreation Staff in Times Square leading up to the fireworks, to distribute promotional materials and answer any visitor questions.”
In-between the parade and fireworks, while you are in Times Square staking out your favorite spot, enjoy great free music sponsored by the Times Square Merchants Association. High Tide entertains from 12pm – 4:30pm with Remedy performing from 5 to 10 p.m., taking a break for the fireworks extravaganza!
With Fort Myers Beach activities on the Fourth going from morning to night, parking will be at a premium and not inexpensive! To help with this, the Town is sponsoring the Beach Trolleys for the day, as these do not ordinarily operate on major holidays. “Trolleys will run from 6:45 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.,” Sarah related. “Service from the Beach Park & Ride at 11101 Summerlin Square Drive starts at 7 a.m., with the last trolley back there leaving Times Square at 11 p.m. The cost is just 75-cents-per-person so we encourage everyone to use that convenient and inexpensive service.”
Due to the parade route and the goal of getting as many cars off the island as quickly and safely as possible after the conclusion of the fireworks, the Matanzas Pass Bridge closes twice on July Fourth. “We shut the bridge in the morning from 9:30 a.m. to noon,” Sarah related, “then again in the evening from 9 until 11:30 p.m., so traffic exiting the island can use both lanes, while keeping the trolley lane open for emergency vehicles.”
Sarah describes herself as, “a beach kid, born and raised, so I cannot imagine Fort Myers Beach without fireworks on July Fourth! As a child, I loved standing in the crowd watching the display, so I am so proud that my hometown offers these All-American events for our residents and guests alike!”
By Gary Mooney