Local businesses and the Chamber of Commerce are engaged in efforts to raise funds for 4th of July fireworks on Fort Myers Beach and have announced two upcoming events to help fill the coffers.
Recently the Town Council, facing cancellation of the popular event due to lack of community fundraising, decided to extend the deadline for community participation to May and asked the community to raise $25,000 which they will match.
Local business-owners jumped into the fray, soliciting other business-owners for donations. Jackie Liszak, owner of Sea Gypsy, Andrea Carriere, Silver Sands owner and John Lallo, Pete’s Time Out owner have joined with Bud Nocera, President of the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce to focus local fundraising efforts.
One of those fundraisers will take place at Tuckaway Café, 1740 Estero Blvd on Saturday, April 23 when owners Tre and Amy Gillette have pledged to donate 50% of that day’s sales to the fireworks effort. Tuckaway is open from 7am-2pm daily, so there’s good reason to stop by at least twice on the 23rd to do your part for fireworks.
Lani Kai’s owner Bob Conidaris is working on a big bash to support the fireworks effort, with a silent auction, music, food and loads of fun on Saturday, May 14th. Details are still being ironed out, so watch for more information.
“So far our fundraising has exceeded our expectations,” said Nocera. “People are eager to help with the effort. The entire island is coming together. Santini Plaza’s Al and Kathy Durrett have made a commitment, as have many other island businesses throughout the island.”
Advanced Disposal has stepped up with the donation of a 30-yd dumpster as well as cardboard trash containers and liners for the downtown area for the 4th of July event.
Parade at Risk Also
It’s not just the fireworks that are in jeopardy. The parade is also at risk, though for a different reason – road construction. Construction officials estimate that the center of Estero Boulevard will be torn up during the installation of the drainage system in early July. They hesitate to adjust that schedule as each delay bumps completion back further, something no one wants.
Beach businesses were recently polled by the Chamber and 60% of them indicated that the 4th of July parade is very or extremely important to their business that day.
“This is a big shot in the arm for businesses at a time of year when we really need it,” Jackie Liszak said. “People come for the parade in the morning, then stay all day. They typically get a hotel room, and spend lots of money at local bars and restaurants. It’s a really important weekend for us and helps businesses get through the summer.”
Suggestions have been made to alter the parade route, limit it to golf carts or walking entrants. The 4th of July parade is on the Town Council’s Monday, April 18th 6:30pm meeting agenda.
Lee County’s parade suggestions are included in the meeting packet available on the Town’s website. They include putting the parade floats in the southbound lane in the center lane construction zone closure areas, along with limiting parade viewing to the northbound side only, across the closed center lane. Candy-throwing would not be allowed in the center lane construction zones. Those center lane closure areas in early July are projected to be near the center of the project zone. Floats would be limited to 8 feet wide and could not be elevated above the truck or trailer bed due to grade transitions – no second levels or elevated terraces on floats. The County and the reFreshFMB project coordinators were unable to estimate how much the Town would have to pay for the extra costs to accommodate the parade.
Anyone interested in contributing to the fireworks fund may send a check payable to FMB Fireworks Fund to: FMB Chamber of Commerce, 1661 Estero Blvd. Suite 8, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931. People can also visit the Facebook page at FMB Fireworks Fund and the GoFundMe account under the same name. For more information, email Jackie at email@example.com.
Do your part to help assure that fireworks are part of the Island’s 4th of July celebration, stop by Tuckaway on April 23rd and stay tuned for more fundraisers.