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New Years Eve is a go

December 27, 2017
Jessica Salmond - News Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Everything will be the same as it always is for New Year's Eve on Fort Myers Beach.

Just a few weeks ago the status of fireworks was uncertain, but everything is back to normal now.

Thanks to many generous donations from the local community, business owners and individuals, Jacki Liszak and the fundraising group were able to raise the necessary funds to pay for the fireworks and the Lee Tran extended-hours trolley again this year.

"I was happy to donate to the cause I love this community, and the community needs this fireworks display," said Lani Kai owner Bob Conidaris in a press release from the Lani Kai. "Our Fort Myers Beach community brings in so many people, so many families on New Year's Eve, we couldn't let that fireworks display get cancelled."

The Lani Kai donated $10,000; Tetra Tech and Sunset Beach Tropical Grill each donated $5,000.

Trolleys will run until approximately 1 a.m. Jan. 1, thanks to donations from the Fort Myers Beach Times Square Merchant's Association and Doc Fords restaurant group of $1,000 and $1,500 respectively.

Fact Box

If You Go

What:Town birthday and New Year's Eve celebrations

When: Noon, birthday cupcakes, Dec. 31; midnight, ball drop and fireworks, Jan. 1, 2018

Where: Times Square

Liszak said in the press release that Val's Lounge and The Mermaid also held last-minute fundraising drives to help out.

After some debate, the town agreed at its Dec. 7 planning and management meeting to help the fundraising committee with the permitting process, as the fundraisers are not an official organization and have been facilitating donations as volunteers.

"We're not spending a penny (on fireworks), it's whatever they can get, whatever $20,000 can buy," Mayor Dennis Boback said at the meeting. "They just need help with the permitting. There's not a snowball's chance in heck they can get the permits in time."

The council decided during this year's budget season that it would pay for the entirety of the Fourth of July day event and let the community fundraise for the New Year's Eve fireworks. Liszak's group was successful, but, when the deadline for New Year's Eve permits was fast approaching, Boback thought the town would be able to expedite the permits more quickly than if someone were to try to do them as an individual.

"People expect it. We've had fireworks forever," Boback said.

The town will still be hosting its annual birthday celebration with cupcakes in Times Square at noon on New Year's Eve, and the fireworks will be the backdrop to the ball drop in the Square at midnight.

Since the town was already planning to do the cupcakes and ball drop, Boback figured the town was already paying for the same stuff it always did, minus the cost of the fireworks. With the ball drop at midnight the town will be paying for additional Sheriff's Office detail because of the number of people it would draw to the Square, with or without fireworks.

At the Dec. 18 meeting, council voted to lift the ban on open containers for the Times Square area.

"I'm just so thankful to all of the businesses and residents who came forward to save the display," Liszak said in the press release.



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