Weekend evening concert festivities at the heart of Fort Myers Beach will continue for another year.
On Monday, the Fort Myers Beach Town Council approved a recurring special event permit to enable Times Square Sunset Celebrations to extend each and every Friday and Saturday through June 14, 2014. The event runs between the hours of 5 to 10 p.m. during Daily Savings Time (ends Nov. 3) and 4 to 9 p.m. during Eastern Standard Time.
The Time Square Merchant & Event Association has been hosting the popular event since December 2011. Consistency was the big reason to have a recurring special event permit for the entire year.
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Time Square Sunset Celebrations will continue into its second and third years. Come watch the sunset and listen to entertainment perched upon the provided bandstand. The event is a popular one.
"It's really brought life back to the Square," said Pete's Time Out owner John Lallo, one of the five merchants who collectively finance the series of headliners that perform. "We had to try to do something to get people back into the Square after Old San Carlos Boulevard was redeveloped."
The bandstand fronts Pete's Time Out, Plaka, Citrola, Kilwin's and Dairy Queen, the five businesses that have combined forces to become the main sponsors to financially support the sunset celebration concerts. Secondary sponsors include The Holiday Court, Local Color and Pier Peddler.
"We always list the Town of Fort Myers Beach as a sponsor as well. We rent the stage off them every week," said Lallo.
On Monday, Lallo asked Council members to consider waiving the $1,000 permit fee on the Town right-of-way due to Town law language that states a request for fee waivers involves a group that provides in-kind services that benefits the Town.
"We are very, very dedicated to keeping this going, but it comes at a lot of cost per individual business to put this on," he said.
The request will be dealt with on a future agenda based upon an expected application submitted by the Times Square group.
Sometimes the Time Square businesses reap the rewards from the twice-a-week celebrations and sometimes people just hang out and watch the entertainment. The budget is roughly $1,200 per week.
"We're hoping to fill seats by doing this, but there is no guarantee. It's evolved into a public service and helps the Arts of the island," said Lallo. "I believe we've only had to cancel twice due to weather. We've invested $1,500 into our own canopy tent to protect the bands from the weather. It's nice to see people enjoying themselves."
The new extension was granted for the island's northern end "walking district" for the period of June 21, 2013 to June 14, 2014. It is part of the Town of Fort Myers Beach Ordinance 12-4, which provides for events of a recurring nature to be allowed and administered through a single permit that can be renewed on an annual basis as long as the event does not change format and is held in the same location during the same time frame.
Open containers or an extension of premises from any of the Time Square businesses and beyond is not part of the application, thus alcohol out of the business boundaries is not allowed. If event organizers desire such a request, Council approval would be required.
According to Pete's Time Out owner John Lallo, the group decided to pool their money to cover the cost of an annual permit, setting up the bandstand and advertising locally. He negotiates with the musicians and has the schedule in place through the summer.
"The musicians are grateful for the opportunity to share their music and gain greater exposure via social media, posts on YouTube, and word of mouth," said Lallo. "The more people who come out to support this event, the better chance I will have to attract such great entertainers."
A four-piece tropical rock band called "High Tide" is a regular favorite and return to Fort Myers Beach every weekend through the summer playing reggae, classic rock, alternative rock, R&B and funk music. High Tide is a high-energy band consisting of Scottee "Marley" on bass guitar and lead vocals, Lawrence Cooley on guitars and vocals, Gary Van Gorp on drums and the popular Diane Russell, who also performs here solo for a following of fans.
Other headliners include "The Manipulators" with Shell Lanius on saxophone; Chicago singer/songwriter Kraig Kenning; the popular Big Al and the Fat Cats, Southern Rock sounds of Patrick Murphy in "Rail Head" and "TrOuBLeMaKerZ."
Town street performers also get into the act, performing magic, mimes and other talent to the delight of the audience.
For more information, stop by Pete's Time Out in Times Square and talk to John Lallo. He might even offer a taste of their signature "Man's Man" Mojito.
--details brief provided by AboveWater Public Relations' Cindy Dobyns