Miss Florida featured in local Fourth of July parade
Lees Garcia, 2009 Miss Florida, will be the grand marshall of the Fort Myers Beach Civic Association’s second annual Fourth of July parade. She will be followed by Miss Southwest Florida, Miss Fort Myers, Miss Cape Coral and Miss Naples Teen.
Garcia, who has lived in Tampa for the past 14 months, will be traveling to Houston for the Miss U.S. International 2009 pageant on July 6. If she wins, she will qualify for the Miss World International beauty pageant — the sister contest to Miss America — held in Singapore.
“I’m really excited about the parade,” said Miss Florida. “Since I leave for Houston on July 6, it’s kind of going to be my last hurrah (before further competition). Hopefully, it’s my last hurrah as Miss Florida.”
The 21-year-old Garcia, who is transferring from the Univer-sity of Sacred Heart in Puerto Rico, is taking classes online and hopes to major in business administration at the University of South Florida.
She has aspirations of owning a business one day.
“Eventually, I’d like to run my own business,” she said.
Garcia found out about the civic parade through Suzi Hosfeld, the state director of the Miss Florida and Miss Teen Florida pageant.
“Suzi is a great help to me,” said Garcia. “Because I live in Tampa, it’s difficult to meet everybody and be everywhere at the same time. She’s always finding things to do for me like fashion shows.”
The parade starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 4. It begins at School Street and proceeds north along Estero Boulevard to Times Square. The holiday festivities continue just after dark with a spectacular fireworks show off the pier.
Expect the Mantanzas Pass Bridge to be closed from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. that day.
Parade awards will include Best Musical Unit; Best Decorated Float; Best Patriotic Theme; Best Overall Theme; Best Decorated Bicycle; Best Business; and Best Non-Business.
After the parade, the awards are expected to be announced at noon at the former Waffle House — which should be opened as the new Surf Club by then.
At 2 p.m., there will be a “Meet and Greet” with Miss Florida and the other pageant winners at the Pink Shell Resort. Please be advised that parking will be very limited at the resort so make use of the LeeTran trolley system.
The Fort Myers Beach Civic Association is still looking for parade entries, sponsors and donations. The entry fee is $20 for nonprofit organizations and $40 for businesses. Donations to help pay for parade expenses will entitle you to be a “Friend of the Fourth of July Parade.”
Call Lee Melsek at 470-3407 or Dennis Boback at 462-8798 or send a check to the Fort Myers Beach Civic Association, P.O. Box 2356, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33932.
The Surf Club, The Beached Whale, Charley’s Boathouse Grill, Pink Shell Resort, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grill and The Beach Observer are among the business sponsors this year. “Friends of the Fourth of July Parade” include Saltwater Pro Shop, Terra Nostra Italian Restaurant and Tropics Bar and Grill. All sponsors will get their name on the parade tank tops and t-shirts, and in all pre- and post-parade stories in Tidelines, The Beach Observer and The News-Press.
Last year, the inaugural parade had 58 entries, including the Fort Myers Beach Little League which won second in an award. Look for the official program of the Fourth of July in the Beach Observer on Wednesday, July 1.