FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla-- Thousands of out-of-towners flocked to Fort Myers Beach to ring in the new year. While many had plans to stay up until midnight, that didn't stop others from kicking off the celebrations a bit early.
"This is our first time to Fort Myers and it's just absolutely wonderful and we don't want to go home," said visitor Ed Nickles.
Nickles and his wife are like thousands of others visiting FMB, trading in snow for sunshine to kick of 2017.
"We're just soaking up some sun because we are from New York where it's cold and snowy of course," said visitor Paul Waterman.
Traveling from places like Minnesota, New York and Indiana these visitors said it didn't make sense to wait until nightfall to start celebrating. By noon, the beaches were packed, families were enjoying lunch at outdoor restaurants and dozens were walking around FMB shops.
"I'm going all out and stepping it up, I'm having diet coke with lime," said Bill Lee.
Lee and his family said they arrived after Christmas and spending time in SWFL is a tradition they look forward to every year.
"There's no better place in the world," said Jeff Lee.