July 4th Holiday Busy, Not Crazy


Fort Myers Beach celebrated a busy but not hectic Fourth of July, with a parade, fundraisers and fireworks to commemorate America’s 241st birthday. The beach, from roughly a half-mile in either direction of Times Square, was full from mid-morning to late afternoon, with thousands reveling in 95-degree heat. In contrast to the balance of the long 4-day holiday weekend, there was just a smidge of mid-afternoon rain, with skies clearing until a gorgeous sunset occurred at 8:24 p.m.

The Yucatan Beach Stand hosted a fundraiser, to start to build the war chest for fireworks for The Fourth of July 2018, and had a mostly full restaurant while a few others had plenty of space. It was surprising to see parking spaces available on Old San Carlos Boulevard 90 minutes before the start of fireworks off the Fort Myers Beach pier.

It was a similar story in Times Square at 8 p.m., with a good crowd listening to the music of “High Tide” and enjoying the open container policy for the holiday, but there were still tables available at the various restaurants. Walking down Fort Myers Beach south of Times Square, there were several wide expanses that were void of people even as the fireworks show approached.

Security personnel from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office were out in force assuring the crowds of a safe and happy environment.

As skies darkened, with the fireworks imminent, the beginning of the display would finally answer a confusing question leading up to the show, as various media outlets reported that the pier display would begin at either 8:15, 8:30, 8:45, 9 or 9:15 p.m.! The correct answer was 9 on the button!

As usual, the 20-minute show did not disappoint, seeming to many in the audience like one long Grand Finale! While there was a huge ovation at its beginning, the crowd fell into an almost hypnotic gaze, with many adults sitting back in lounge chairs in near-contemplative moods, while children watched with mouths agape, with frequent “Ohhs & Ahhs” at particularly high, bright or colorful exploding shells, framed by the nearby nearly full moon. When the real Grand Finale occurred, with its constant barrage of magnificent colors, the crowd rose as one in a long standing ovation!

Once the display ended, trolleys stood at the ready at Times Square to begin to move revelers off the beach. Sheriff’s deputies closed the Matanzas Pass Bridge to oncoming traffic at 9 p.m., to allow the use of all three lanes for traffic exiting the island, with the flow working perfectly after the show.

Good crowds, a safe atmosphere and spectacular fireworks made The Fourth of July 2017 a fun time for all!


Gary Mooney