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Islands spark into action readying for Fourth of July celebrations

By Staff | Jun 25, 2009

Though it is said everyone loves a parade. On Sanibel everyone loves a parade, fireworks, Road Rally and everything considered fun that makes up the island-wide Independence Day celebration on Saturday, July 4.

For those who have yet to experience July 4th island style – get ready because it will be a colorful, wild and wet adventure via glitzy floats, flying candy and yes super soaker water guns.

There are several big events to commemorate our hard-won independence as the United States of America. There is a parade that starts in the morning, a Road Rally for those with fun-loving adventurous, spirit in the afternoon, a BBQ with a live band at the Bailey’s Shopping Center and fireworks in the evening near the causeway. Admission to all events are free. Food at the BBQ is available for purchase.

Everyone loves a parade

The Friends of Don, Inc. are getting ready to put out Sanibel’s 19th annual Independence Day Parade. The theme this year is “Independence Day Goes Green”. The Sanibel School Green Team are the grand marshalls for this year’s parade, said Trish Phillips, a parade organizer.

“We are encouraging participants to go more green,” Phillips said.

Deadlines for parade float entries are on June 30th. Non-commercial cost is $15 and commercial cost is $30. Applications are available at the Bank of the Islands. T-shirts are also available at the Bank of the Islands for $12. After July 3 the cost for the T-shirts is $15.

The parade will start at 9:30 a.m. at the corner of Tarpon Road and Periwinkle Way and end at Casa Ybel Road. Due to traffic and road closures parade attendees need to arrive early.

The original founders of the parade – The Board of Realtors stopped doing the event in 1993. But Trish Philips – whose dad Don Bissell was on the board – and a handful of others got together and created Friends of Don, Inc. The non-profit group has been putting the parade together for over the past decade. Phillips dad got the idea to start the parades after attending a hometown parade in Wisconsin.

The Sanibel parade draws thousands of onlookers each year. Most revel in watching the decorated floats and catching candy and beads thrown by passengers on the floats.

The Shell Museum will be using using a float this year. They will be mounting their puppet theater on the float and the kids will be performing also they had a float skirt custom made with pictures that the kids can color, said Kathleen Hoover, Public Relations Manager for the Shell Museum.

While most look forward to seeing the floats pass by, others love people and pet watching – yes pets are welcome at the parade. Many dress in festive patriotic frocks and costumes for the parade. The children and young at heart tend to enjoy squirting and sometimes blasting each other with water – a fact most don’t mind during the balmy summer weather.

It’s the cutesy, kooky stuff that seems to keep folks coming to the annual parade year after year too.

“I am hoping to keep that hometown feel,” Phillips said.

Get ready to roll at the 30th Annual Road Rally

There’s nothing like a good scavenger hunt. They’re maddening, fun and adventurous. And for those who are not aware, Sanibel is home to its own kind of scavenger hunt – the Road Rally.

The Road Rally is considered Sanibel’s longest running July 4th event. This year the event in it’s 30th year will start at the crack of noon at Timbers Restaurant. Mayor Mick Denham will wave off the first car.

This year’s Road Rally is named in honor of David Ammerman who died last year. Ammerman was a popular island figure who used to participate in the Road Rally.

During the Road Rally, teams and families navigate a vehicle around the island and try to figure out the clues while following a prescribed driving course. Prizes will be awarded for time, mileage and for the most correct answers to the quiz about things seen along the route. A “50/50 raffle” will also be available.

The event was started by the Sanibel Chamber of Commerce and picked by the Sanibel Captiva Optimist Club about 14 years ago, said Stan Howard, president of the San-Cap Optimist Club. The event average about 30 to 40 cars that participate. The club hopes to raise at least $5,000. The funds benefit their scholarship program in which four students receive four-year scholarships. The non-profit organizations also supports FISH, and other causes on the islands.

“We’re hoping this will bring out the entire community,” Howard said.

Participants have their own adventure while out on the quest to figure out the clues. Some people dress themselves and their vehicle up with a specific theme.

“I am surprised about how many repeat people come,” said Amy Wainwright, a San-Cap Optimist Club member.

Choose your team (a driver, navigator and spotters are usual), fill in the entry form from Bailey’s General Store, Sanibel Cafe, or Sanibel-Captiva Community Bank (also available at the starting line). Mail it, together with this year’s special entry fee of $30, to San-Cap Optimist Club, PO Box 1370, Sanibel, FL 33957. Entry Fee includes: car, driver, navigator, unlimited crew, and one official Road Rally T-Shirt. Additional T-Shirts will be available for $15.

This year the rally begins in Timbers Restaurant parking lot (only one-half block north of Bailey’s on Tarpon Bay Road) at noon, and also ends there for the “afterglow” party. Staggered starting times will be preassigned by the rally master. The event takes about two and a quarter hours to finish.

“It’s not a race,” said Dani Howard. “It’s an accuracy contest.”

But to keep the fun in the game, organizers ask participants to obey traffic laws and for drivers to pay attention to the road and let the navigators do the rest. In years past drivers have been pulled over by Sanibel Police and one year a cat was killed off of Middle Gulf Drive.

And also participants are urged to pack their patience during the event. Some couples lose their cool with each other after trying to figure out the clues.

“People get very passionate,” Stan Howard said.

There are no divorce lawyers among the organizers. And for those who attended last year and got fumbled up by the rhyming in the clues – there will be no rhyming this time. There will be a clue placed in the Islander for this edition.

Prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. First place tends to be a weekend giveaway. the participant who gets last place is awarded free admission next year.

There will be an Afterglow party at the Sanibel Grill after the Road Rally.

See the entry form on page 19 for more details or call Dani Howard at 472-0836.

Sponsorships are available for tax-free donations of $100 or more. Each sponsor gets publicity and a placard on one of the rally vehicles. Call Dani Howard, phone above, to arrange sponsorships.

Fireworks display at dusk

Sanibel Island’s annual fireworks display will begin at dusk, Saturday, July 4th. Sanibel’s fireworks are traditionally launched from the end of Bailey Road.

Sanibel City Council accepted a donation of $13,200 from Royal Shell Vacations and Royal Shell Properties, to underwrite the City’s annual 2009 Independence Day Fireworks display.

As per Sanibel City Ordinance 01-10 possession and/or discharge of fireworks, sparklers and firecrackers is illegal.

Barbeque at Bailey’s Center

There will be a barbeque at Bailey’s Center after the parade.