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Town to celebrate its birthday on New Year’s Eve

December 27, 2018
By JESSE MEADOWS (jmeadows@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The Town of Fort Myers Beach will turn 23 on Jan. 1, and will officially celebrate its birthday on New Year's Eve.

The festivities will begin with a cupcake giveaway in Times Square, a tradition that has been in place since the Town's inception in 1995.

This year, nearly 500 cupcakes have been donated.

Article Photos

The fireworks were entirely funded by donations to the Fort Myers Beach Fireworks Fund for the third year in a row.

FILE PHOTO

"We've gone up from 150 to 300, I think last year we were over 300, and they just go very quickly because there's a tremendous amount of foot traffic," said Sean de Palma, director of Parks and Recreation.

In past years, they've kept the party in the Square, but this year de Palma said they wanted to do something different.

They'll be hosting a pool party at the Fort Myers Beach Community Pool at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center from 1 to 3:30 p.m.

"We'll have relay races, we're going to have music playing, and (we'll have) a photobooth," he said.

The department saw the party as an opportunity to attract more people to Bay Oaks.

Admission will be free for kids under 12, and cost $4 for members.

The fee for non-members will be $7 for adults and $5 for kids.

In the evening, the party will shift back to Times Square, with live music by Remedy until 5 p.m. and High Tide from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Then the ball will drop, and the fireworks will explode.

The fireworks were entirely funded by donations to the Fort Myers Beach Fireworks Fund for the third year in a row.

The Town of Fort Myers Beach will fund up to $10,000 for the event's public safety needs, but declined to devote any money to fireworks again this year.

"There were budget constraints, so (the Town) decided they weren't going to fund it. And I couldn't let them go away. It's too important for too many people," said Jacki Liszak, one of the Fireworks Funds' organizers.

The 14-minute show by Garden State Fireworks will cost $15,000, of which Liszak said they have raised more than half, and are still accepting donations at the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.

"I think it's an important event for the whole island. It's a celebration of the town, it's a celebration of the birth of a new year, it's a tradition for families. I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who look forward to this all year long," Liszak said.

Mayor Tracey Gore has voiced concern at recent town meetings about the adverse environmental impacts the fireworks may have.

"I'm still having an issue with throwing phosphorus into the water, when our waters are so crippled right now," she said at a meeting of the Bay Oaks Recreation Advisory Committee on Dec 20, noting that the City of Fort Myers opted for a laser light show this year.

Besides the fireworks show, there are no personal fireworks allowed anywhere on the island, but revelers will get the chance to drink under the stars in Times Square.

Fort Myers Beach Town Council passed an ordinance at their Dec. 17 meeting allowing open container within the boundaries of the Square from noon until midnight.

The Times Square Merchants expect 500-1000 people to attend the festivities.

"Times Square obviously gets the bulk of it, because that's where the fireworks go off, but if you go up and down our entire beach and you go out and look at the water and all the boats out here, it's spread pretty much across the whole island," said Liszak.

"Especially because of the year that we've had, with the hurricane last year and red tide this summer, we all desperately need a reason to celebrate. Certainly it does help to get a little extra visitors coming in, or locals from Lee County coming to support us. We need to get as much of that as we can so that we can continue to recover."

Limited trolley services will transport riders to Fort Myers Beach on New Year's Eve, ending at 2 a.m.

The Matanzas Pass Bridge will close to traffic at 11:45 p.m., reopening after the fireworks for cars exiting the island only.

 
 

 

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