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Businesses rally to reinstate trolleys on New Year’s Eve

Times Square business owner quickly raises funds

January 5, 2016
By John Morton ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fort Myers Beach averted a public relations disaster on New Year's Eve, with John Lallo's influence coming to the rescue.

"I raised $5,700 in four hours," said the owner of Pete's Time Out when he learned the day before that LeeTran trolley service would cease locally at 9 p.m. on Thursday.

"What was avoided was a bunch of ticked-off people who might not want to visit our island again," Lallo said.

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Trolleys past 9 p.m. on New Year's Eve were cut from the town's budget this year, but they ran until 2 a.m. thanks to donations by local businesses.

As a result, four trolleys were hired to not only run until 2 a.m. but free of charge.

"This was a great example of our dedicated business community working together," said Mayor Anita Cereceda, who donated a combined $500 on behalf of her Local Color and Pier Peddler businesses.

The Times Square Merchants and Event Association led the way with a $1,500 donation, matched by the Greater Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce.

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Chamber President Bud Nocera sent out an email to all chamber members, with the Best Western Beach Resort and Outrigger Beach Resort responding immediately with donations, Nocera said.

According to Lallo, other businesses donating were Kilwins, the Sunset Tropical Grill, LaOla, Mango Bay, Lahaina Realty, Winds and the Mango Street Inn.

The town cut the roughly $6,000 needed for the late-night trolleys, which had been funded on Dec. 31 for years, as part of budget constraints last year. Cereceda said finding an alternative source was forgotten until Lallo came through.

Said Nocera, "John Lallo and the Times Square Merchant's Association are the real heroes here. They immediately went to work and came through. Without them we'd have had some upset customers."



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