Southwest Florida puts on a party to celebrate our nation’s birth. Some communities hold hometown parades. Some organize free festivals. Some even have hot dog- and watermelon-eating contests. To cap it all off, as the sky turns velvety black, a kaleidoscope of colors burst into the air. Here’s a look at where the festivities and fireworks around town.
Historic Everglades City is always first to celebrate Independence Day. The June 28 festival begins at 10 a.m. on the steps of City Hall in the town center. Then, the Patriotic Parade kicks off at 10:30 a.m. The event continues in McLeod Park, 208 S. Copeland Ave., at 11 a.m. with hot dogs, sodas, bake sale, music, face painting, arts and crafts, vendors, raffles, kiddies’ best dressed contest and playground games. The festivities culminate in a musical fireworks display at 9 p.m.
Red, White & Boom has blasted back to life. In January, the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce cancelled the huge event after the main sponsor, RE/MAX Realty Team, announced it would not continue its support. This spring, the city of Cape Coral stepped in and found new sponsors.
“We’re good to go,” says Todd King, special events coordinator for the city. “The boom is on.”
Storm Smart stepped up to be the major sponsor this year.
The event begins at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge at 4 p.m. Friday, July 4, with music and entertainment. New this year is a free Patriot Kids Zone with inflatables, face painting and other activities sponsored by the Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park.
Fireworks begin around 9:30 p.m. Last year, about 30,000 people attended. King expects this year to be the biggest in the history of the event.
Details are available at capeboom.com.
TIPS: No coolers, no pets, no personal fireworks and no outside alcohol.
Every year, Bonita Springs hosts an old fashioned town parade featuring an array of floats and marchers. It begins at 9 a.m. Friday, July 4, on Old U.S. 41 Road. Festivities pick back up at 4 p.m. in Riverside Park with bed races, live entertainment, a hot dog-eating contest, watermelon-eating contest and kids’ activities, including waterslides. A fireworks and laser show begins at dark.
TIPS: Park in the old Bamboo Village across from the former Everglades Wonder Gardens. Bring chairs. No coolers.
The 15th annual Independence Eve Fireworks Show and Celebration takes place Thursday, July 3, at Miromar Outlets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. The free event includes a sidewalk sale, live music and children’s activities followed by fireworks. The fireworks are to take place over the lake after dark.
TIPS: Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Coolers, tailgating and personal fireworks prohibited. Additional parking available at Germain Arena and the Miromar Design Center.
• The city of Naples kicks off the Fourth of July with a parade at 10 a.m. It begins on Broad Avenue South and continues to Third Street South, and then to Fifth Avenue South, ending on Eighth Street South. Fireworks begin at 9 p.m. by the Naples Pier.
TIPS: Parking for the Naples Pier is along the streets and the garages by Fifth Avenue South. Coolers are allowed, but no glass, on the beach.
• Collier County throws a free ice cream party followed by fireworks at Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, Naples. Festivities begin at 4 p.m. July 4 with fireworks at dark.
TIP: Parking is across the street.
Fourth of July festivities kick off on Sanibel Island at 9:30 a.m. with a parade on Periwinkle Way that starts at Tarpon Bay Road. A free festival begins at 6 p.m. at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, 949 Sand Castle Road. There will be live entertainment and face painting. Food and drink will be for sale.
TIPS: While the best viewing is from The Dunes, you can still see the show from the causeway. Parking at The Dunes is $5. Parking on the causeway is free. No coolers at The Dunes. Coolers are allowed on the causeway.
A huge block party is planned for downtown Fort Myers, from Lee to Monroe streets and from Main Street to the river. There will be five stages with entertainment, food, art, face painting, bounce houses and kids performing art. The event runs 5 to 11 p.m. with fireworks at dark.
TIPS: Parking is free in the city lots off Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard with a free shuttle. Parking in the city garages and in a lot by Publix is $5 to $10. Coolers are not permitted inside the event, but you can take coolers into Centennial Park.
FORT MYERS BEACH
Festivities begin with a parade at 10 a.m. It starts at the Bay Oaks Recreation Center, 2731 Oak St., and ends at Times Square. New this year is a hot dog-eating contest at 2 p.m. at Times Square. There will be a men’s, a women’s and a children’s division. Winners receive $100. Fireworks begin at dark.
TIP: Either get there early to park or use the Park and Ride at Summerlin Square and take the free trolley.
Fireworks on Marco Island begin at 9 p.m. off Crescent Beach. Residents with beach passes can watch it from Residents Beach. Those without passes can see the display from Tigertail Beach or South Beach.
TIPS: Tigertail and South Beach both have public parking. Coolers, but not glass, are allowed on the beach.
PUNTA GORDA/PORT CHARLOTTE
Many families in Charlotte County celebrate the Fourth of July with an all-day festival at Laishley Park in Punta Gorda. Event organizers plan to keep people cool with more than a dozen waterslides in a variety of sizes. There will be live music all day, food vendors and a performance by Jack Michael and Drive 31 after the fireworks, which begin after dark. Organizers say it will be the largest display of fireworks ever in Punta Gorda. Festivities run 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda will also have entertainment. Live music there starts at 11 a.m. Event coordinator Catherine Perry says one of the best features is The Garbage Men, a band from Sarasota of 14- and 15-year-old teenagers who use recycled materials as their musical instruments. The Garbage Men perform noon to 3 p.m. There will also be children’s activities throughout the day. The Laishley Park fireworks can be seen from Fishermen’s Village, too. Plus, King Fishers Fleet offers a sunset cruise and fireworks watching. The boat departs at 7:30 p.m. Call 941-639-0969 for reservations.
TIP: Bring a swimsuit for the waterslides at Laishley Park.