Red, White and BOOM!, Cape Coral’s Independence Day crescendo
For twenty years the City of Cape Coral has played host to the largest Fourth of July celebration in Southwest Florida. On Saturday night thousands of people attended an updated Red, White and BOOM! in downtown Cape Coral.
This weekend’s holiday festivities were organized by the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, which not unlike many other chambers and cities, found it difficult to secure funding for holiday events.
Poor economic circumstances forced many cities to consider axing their Fourth of July events, including the City of Fort Myers which cancelled Riverfest and the fireworks show in early June but reinstated them after a generous private donation.
The chamber, on the other hand, stayed committed to ensuring the event would happen this year and made some changes to help offset the costs.
Without cutting the fireworks or other parts of the event, Red, White and BOOM! went off Saturday night with no significant changes other than a $1 entrance fee and a shuffling around of the stage location.
Claudia St. Onge, business manager for the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce, said 50,000 to 60,000 people were expected to attend and early in the evening the barricaded Cape Coral Parkway was bustling.
St. Onge had no doubt that Red, White and BOOM! is the largest Fourth of July event in the region and even though weather forecasts showed a 40 percent chance of rain, with many parts of Fort Myers receiving precipitation on Saturday afternoon, the Cape Coral event was untouched.
“We think this is the largest one in the area,” she said. “I don’t think we had any rain, had a dark cloud over us and it went away – we are blessed.”
She also pointed out that attendance was the same this year even with the $1 entrance fee, instituted to hire the city’s fire and emergency medical services departments for the event.
Saturn of Cape Coral sponsored Red, White and BOOM! for the second year in a row. Robert Goodman, president of Saturn Southwest Florida – including dealerships in Fort Myers, Naples and Cape Coral – said the event was a wonderful opportunity to get the word out about the new dealership.
“We built a new dealership, opened in March, and it’s a good way to get our name out,” he said.
Goodman said he would like to sponsor the event in 2010.
“We hope so, I was thinking that on the way here that it’s a great event and I’d like to do it next year,” he said.
Red, White and BOOM! offered entertainment for the entire family including bounce houses, slides, games and activities for children; live music, food and drinks for parents and an exhilarating fireworks show at night.
Harley Davidson of Fort Myers offered people free “Photographs on a Hog,” and the U.S. Army allowed anyone over the age of 16 to climb a rock wall or go through the interactive soldier experience.