FORT MYERS, Fla. — Downtown Fort Myers kicked off 2023 with a massive turnout for the 2023 New Year's celebration.
Downtown was packed with many people from all over celebrating. After months of rebuilding and recovering after Hurricane Ian, many workers and people downtown said this was just what the community and businesses needed.
"It's great being downtown, it's great that all the activity is back to normal, I consider this normal," said Brent Hicks, a resident of Fort Myers.
Hicks was at the 86 Room located in the heart of Downtown Fort Myers. He was with his wife and friends and they said it was refreshing to see downtown Fort Myers so lively.
"Because of all of the amount of devastation all throughout Southwest Florida, Sanibel, that whole area, and downtown," Hicks said.
Thousands flooded the streets of downtown enjoying live music, food, fireworks, and of course the ball drop.
"I don't see any difference when I was here two years ago. I did hear how you guys got slammed, but I'm not seeing it," said Bob Kauffman, a visitor from Indiana. "People just rolled up their sleeves after this hurricane and said let's just get back at it."
Which is what many businesses said they did.
"It's great," said a bartender at the 86 room. "I knew we would bounce back, but not this quickly."
On the other side of downtown at the Hideaway bar, bartender Sarai Sota said she was excited with Sunday night's turnout. She said not only for the Hideaway but for all of the businesses downtown.
"We needed this, it's just been a blessing," said Sota. "It made me hopeful because after everything we went through as a community."
"It's just great to see things come back to life again, after a relatively short amount of time," Hicks said.