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City cancels event for Cinco de Mayo; Cites lack of sponsors

By Staff | Apr 4, 2008

Cape Coral’s economic crisis has claimed another victim as the city-sponsored Cinco de Mayo Block Party has been canceled, according to a memo. The event, originally scheduled for May 3 downtown, was axed after the city’s special events division failed to secure sponsorship.

In the past, two local businesses provided financial assistance to the city, with local restaurants chipping in with ethnic food, but those establishments could not put up the cash this year.

“The former sponsors indicated that the reason for their withdrawal of financial support is directly tied to the current economic conditions that they face in their respective businesses,” wrote William Potter, a superintendent for the city’s revenue and special facilities.

The city tried to find other sponsors through the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce but came up empty. To make the problem worse, local restaurants would have been required to pay additional insurance costs that they were unwilling to pay.

Parks and Recreation Department head Steve Pohlman said Thursday that last year’s event brought out between 5,000 to 7,000 people and was a boon to the vendors who participated.

“Last year it was very well received as a family event,” he said.

This year’s fiesta was to include a handful of free musical performances, Hispanic crafts, a rock wall along with other attractions for kids and traditional ethnic alcoholic refreshments. Staffers did consider a scaled back event with fewer rides and a smaller entertainment cast, but the department still would have lost $8,000.

The loss was not budgeted and there is no other revenue in the parks and recreation department to cover that sort of expenditure, so the city determined it was not worth running the event with the negative financial impact.

“We were not sure that it would have had the same impact and had the same effect on the community,” said Pohlman.

While the city’s event will not go on this year, the Cape is encouraging residents to head to local restaurants and other businesses that will be holding their own Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Pohlman said many ethnic restaurants will be offering food and drink specials to commemorate the occasion.

The city’s celebration is not going to be terminated forever, though. Pohlman said the city will try to bring the event back as early as next year.

“We’ll attempt to secure sponsors in the future,” he said. “It’s just a difficult economy right now.”