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Cape’s July 4th bash revamps due to economy

By Staff | May 30, 2009

One of Cape Coral’s most popular summer festivities, the Fourth of July event known as Red, White, and Boom, will be a little more expensive this year — one dollar, to be exact.
The new charge for the event, which previously was free, is the result of city budget restraints, organizers said.
The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral organizes and runs the local celebration of the nation’s birth, but the city chips in with firefighters and police officers for public safety.
“The city probably spends $40,000 to $50,000 in public safety costs,” said Mike Quaintance, president of the Chamber of Commerce.
Because the city is contending with a precipitous drop in property values (down an estimated 34.5 percent according to Lee County Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson) in formulating next year’s budget, the Chamber decided to help recover the city’s costs for the event.
“We all know what’s going on with the city and municipal budgets,” Quaintance said.
The $1 fee will only be charged to those who attend the official event –which includes concerts and patriotic tributes — but onlookers from Del Prado Boulevard will be able to view the fireworks display for free. A children’s area will also be available free of charge.
The first $20,000 generated by the admission fee will go to the city, with any additional funds going to offset the Chamber’s expenses.
“The Chamber will not take a cut of this until we pay back the city,” said Bob Knickman, Chamber special events director.
Although the existence of other city-run events may be in jeopardy due to the tight budget year, Mayor Jim Burch said the Chamber’s willingness to work with the city should serve as an example of how to preserve other projects and events.
“It takes everybody in a time like this to find out how to share the pain and still have these things,” Burch said.
But given the budget constraints, city-sponsored holiday events could be fewer and farther between.
“It’s always a struggle because those are dollars that are difficult to justify,” Burch said.