Guest Commentary: Happy Birthday Fort Myers Beach


The Town of Fort Myers Beach turned 21 on New Year’s Eve and Kathy and I went down to Times Square to join the party, get our ceremonial birthday cupcake and schmooze with some of the past and present local dignitaries and other “usual suspects” that have always shown up to the event.

First, kudos to the dedicated group of “Cupcake Ladies” who put the thing together. They’ve done it forever and they did it again. Good for them for thwarting the proposal that was floated before the Town Council about having the event at Bay Oaks instead of Times Square.

The line formed a few minutes before noon. The assembled group all sang “Happy Birthday” to the town and the somewhat smaller than usual, but still delicious, cupcakes and cookies were served.

All that’s the good news.

We got there about twenty minutes before noon and after the cupcake, got a sandwich at Plaka in order to people-watch and see who else showed up. We hung around ‘til about ten to one when the ladies started breaking down their setup. Not one member of the Town Council appeared during the whole hour. Shame on them. I know they spend huge amounts of time doing the town’s business – a lot more than their compensation justifies – but come on. If you’re going to have the event, name at least one designated hitter to appear and make a thirty-second welcoming speech. Anyone who was out of town has an excused absence; the rest don’t.

As I think about it, nobody made any kind of big deal about my birthdays after I turned 21 either. Maybe that’s where we are as a town right now. If so, that’s sad. I’m hoping that it’s only a sign of where the current Council is, not the town.

One more thing: Everyone coming into the “You-can-walk-around-here-with-your-drink” area, either from Estero or Old San Carlos was greeted with a sandwich sign that said, “No Alcoholic Beverages Beyond This Point.” Huh? The same message was on the opposite side of the sign, facing inward and correctly telling people that they were leaving the “no-fault” drinking zone. The way it read was that you couldn’t carry a drink into the zone. Whoever thought that one up should consider getting a sign made that says, “Welcome to the party. Open containers permitted only within the marked area.”

Somebody, somewhere should be thinking about stuff like this. These are the details that say to the public that we’re either a class operation or a chicken one.


Jay Light