Between weather conditions, the many activities and no major incidents, the second annual Town of Fort Myers Beach Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks Show received high marks for its entertainment value last Friday.
Nothing appeared to interrupt more than 12 hours of celebration, including near perfect weather from the start of the 10 a.m. parade, through the afternoon Times Square festivities and until the final pop of the Beach Pier fireworks show that went off past 10 p.m.
FMB's Independence Day kicked off military style with Beach Fire Department and Lee County Sheriff's Office personnel followed by Veterans of Foreign Wars and its women's auxiliary club and the FMB Community Emergency Response Team (the latter which volunteered throughout the day and evening until the fireworks were over) to start the hour-long parade. Many floats, car clubs, local businesses and others were cheered on.
A full capacity crowd on the beachfront witnessed an awesome fireworks display that seemed like it caught the Beach Pier on fire by the end of the show.
Five parade awards (plaques) will be handed out in the near future. Surf Club captured Best Overall Entry with its float that was awarded on "multiple components, decorations, music and personality, while clearly representing a patriotic theme." Krewe of Sloth won Best Decorated Entry with its S.S. Minnow boat float that was judged on "a display that was neat, well put together and visually appealing." Marcato Marching Band obtained Best Musical Display due to its "music being loud, clear and understandable." The Ryan Family took Best Patriotic Theme in the category of displaying Red, White and Blue, while Gold Wing Road Riders Association netted Best Patriotic Theme in the category of displaying enthusiasm.
In the first annual Town of Fort Myers Beach Parks & Recreation Department Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest in Times Square, Dawson LaForce consumed seven hot dogs in eight minutes to win the kid's (under age 16) division and Bob Petcher wolfed down nine hot dogs in eight minutes to take the men's division. Both winners received a a championship trophy and $100. The women's division did not have enough contestants to field a competition.
Live entertainment delighted the large crowd that made a day of it in Times Square with music from 1 p.m. until midnight. The Town and Garden State Fireworks waited until Sanibel's fireworks show finished before putting on an eye-popping effort with its fireworks display, regarded as one of the best if not the best in Southwest Florida. Lani Kai, Conidaris Builders and SEARCH, inc. were among island businesses that contributed to the financial part of the show.
Overall, America's 235th birthday was regarded as a rousing success. Town Parks & Recreation staff should be thanked for doing a great job in organizing the day's events.
"The day was a great success," said said Bay Oaks Athletic & Fitness Coordinator Adam Leicht. "We had one more parade entry than last year, the hot dog eating contest was successful in its first year and the fireworks did not have a hiccup."