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July 4 parade gets the OK

Floats no wider than 8 feet, however

April 19, 2016
By John Morton (jmorton@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Fort Myers Beach is known for some grandiose parade floats. However, for this year's Fourth of July festivities the residents' creativity will be tested in the form of having to scale things back.

That's because while Lee County and Chris-Tel construction both vow to accommodate what will be the 10th annual parade by securing road-work zones along torn-up Estero Boulevard, they set forth some restrictions during Monday's Town Council meeting.

Most notably, floats can only be 8 feet in width, as the route will be limited to the southbound (gulf-side) lane. Also, walkers can only travel in front or behind the floats.

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This year, floats will be restricted to 8 feet of width.

Also, floats must be no higher than one level due to the risk of tipping as the result of grade changes as steep as 2 feet.

As for viewers, they will be limited to the northbound (bay-side) lane. They will be behind a short concrete wall to protect them from the work area. On the other side, barrels will serve as barriers between the floats and the construction.

Another restriction is that the throwing of candy will not be allowed, for fear of it landing in the work area and/or kids potentially trying to retrieve it.

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The need for the adjustments are the result of the likelihood that at least 700 feet of the boulevard's center lane will closed off in the heart of the parade route, which runs from Sea Grape Plaza to Times Square. Hoping to make great progress now that tourism season has ended and the rainy season awaits, construction leaders said the early-July time period will bring intense work.

Both county and construction officials with the project would not estimate what additional costs could come with the security measures, so the council voted to remove the town of any financial contributions with the parade in mind. Rather, it expects the ongoing fireworks fundraising efforts by the community to cover and potential costs - although both the county and construction company anticipated none.

Jacki Liszak, owner of the Sea Gypsy Inn and the fundraising organizer, said the goal of $25,000 already budgets in the cost of law enforcement need for the day's events. The town has agreed to match any funds raised by the community with a cap of $25,000.

To date, Liszak said she has collected nearly $20,000 and has commitments just shy of $25,000. She expects to pass along a check to the town in the next couple of weeks, well ahead of the May 15 deadline.

"Our island residents and businesses are amazing," she said of the response to the campaign.

Additional fundraising efforts and events are still to come. On Saturday, the Tuckaway Caf will donate half of its sales and the Cottages will hold a fundraiser on May 5. On May 14, the Lani Kai will top off the drive with a daylong luau.

 
 

 

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