To those who have attended Cape Coral's annual July 4th celebration previously, with the exception of the added space, things weren't that different from those in the past.
The first truly city-run Red, White & Boom event was a success as thousands flooded Cape Coral Parkway from the Cape Coral Bridge to Del Prado to be entertained, eat, drink and watch the fabulous fireworks display.
The weather, although sweltering, was not a factor as attendees marked their spots for prime fireworks viewing hours before they went off, listening to three acts on the main stage in the process.
Three generations of the Cole family make their annual trip to Red, White & Boom Friday, July 4.
Todd King, special events coordinator, worked all day to get things ready, and by the time the event kicked off, the event lived up to its stellar past.
"It's a big event and we're getting things running. We look forward to a great show," King said. "The Chamber is a huge shoe to fill, they're an amazing group of people."
The event featured a large kids area with numerous bounce houses, slides and a jousting area that got more crowded as the evening progressed.
Even during the earliest hours of the event, there was much to enjoy as Blackwater took the stage and the dozens of vendors of all kinds, from food to those running for office, lined the road.
Cecil Pendergrass, BOCC chairman, and Lizbeth Benacquisto came to enjoy the festivities and hear from concerned citizens.
"I've been coming here since they've been doing this. It's a great venue and I love how the community has come together," Pendergrass said.
"It's wonderful to see so many families out and enjoying the environment and the Kid's Zone is great," Benacquisto said. "You can see how the people in Southwest Florida appreciate this event because it's so family friendly."
Mayor Marni Sawicki and much of the city council were there, helping out at a tent to raise funds for Cape Coral Civic Association president Ed Prince, who has cancer. She would be seen later onstage to kick off fireworks and host the VIP tent.
"The number of people who stood up and gave money for this is amazing. This is why I moved here. It's a community I love and I'm glad others get to see it," Sawicki said.
It looked as though last year's event might have been the last, but thanks to Storm Smart and other sponsors pitching in, families such as the Coles were able to bring their whole clan, kids, parents and grandparents.
"We brought the kids to play, see fireworks and have fun," said Mischele Cole, a grandmother. "They've come and had their faces painted, and now we're trying to find other things to do."
"I'm enjoying all the free stuff," said Alyssa Heinamann, 7. "We go for the fireworks."
Mike Imbasciani and his BluezRockerz band, and feature performer, Nashville recording artist Kelleigh Bannen also performed as the sun set and the crowd made its way toward the bridge and settled on both sides of Bernie Braden Park.
Once the music stopped and the Swiss firefighters, who are here to work for the Cape Coral Fire Dept. for a Swiss reality TV show, were introduced, Sawicki and a group of main sponsors hit the plunger to get the fireworks under way, with Country 107.1-FM supplying the soundtrack to thousands on land and hundreds at sea.
Barry Bledsoe, who had a front row seat for the pyrotechnics, was impressed.
"It was very sweet. It's great when you're upfront and can hear the music. It really enhances it," Beldsoe said. "Earlier I regretted not going to Fort Myers Beach for their fireworks (which could be seen from the bridge), but this worked out fine."
Ashley Vargas, of Cape Coral brought Valentina Bahamon, who had never been to Red, White & Boom, and made a convert out of her.
"I thought it was amazing. The colors were beautiful and it was awesome," Vargas said. "The music was fun and we danced and it was fun."
"I also liked the fireworks. I've lived here for eight years but I never came," Bahamon said. "The music was nice. I felt like I was in Disneyworld. I'm definitely coming back."