Community leaders on Fort Myers Beach are trying to keep their Fourth of July parade and fireworks show on the calendar, despite some challenges that threaten them.
Between a major road construction project on Estero Boulevard and murky water releases from Lake Okeechobee, the beach town has seen its share of challenges to tourism in the last several months. Bud Nocera, of the Fort Myers Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, said Monday that businesses on the island rely on the Fourth of July events for a summer economic boost - especially when visitors who come for the daytime parade stay for the nighttime fireworks.
"It gives people a reason to come to Fort Myers Beach early in the morning and stay all day," Nocera said.
The company Semmer Electric provided the fireworks for over 20 years, but in 2012 decided they could no longer sponsor the event.
Jacki Liszak, who runs the Sea Gypsy Inn, created a GoFundMe account to raise cash for this year's fireworks. She plans to keep the fundraising efforts going, as a continuous source of money for fireworks every July 4th and New Year's Eve.
"If we can put something in place where we're not scrambling last minute, and we have the funds already raised for the next event, it makes a lot of sense," Liszak said. "It takes the pressure off of the fundraisers, as well as the city."
She said she believes the needed goal of $25,000 for the fireworks will be met by the May 15th deadline.
Fort Myers Beach Council members discussed Monday the viability of having a 4th of July parade, since about 700 feet of the planned route could be a construction zone. Since Estero Boulevard is a county road, the council is asking Lee County to help them come up with a solution to allow the parade to happen. They should know more by April 18th.
"It really does provide us with an economic impact," Nocera said.