Cape Coral rings the new year in with style
As the clock ticked closer to midnight New Year’s Eve, revelers ringing in 2010 in Cape Coral expressed relief at seeing a tough year come to an end, while holding out hope that the future would be better.
Jeff Atherton, a seasonal resident down from Illinois, settled in Thursday night at Cape Harbour’s fourth annual event to watch the fireworks and spend time with friends.
“It was a good time last year,” he said of why he attended. “And to meet up with friends you haven’t seen for a long time.”
Marking his second New Year’s Eve in a row at the local celebration, Atherton said the people and the atmosphere keep drawing him back.
“We like to watch people,” he said, noting that the antics of some in the crowd keep the night memorable and interesting. “It makes it fun.”
Josh Nigro and Brandy Dentzau, both of Cape Coral, chose Cape Harbour’s event because of the close proximity to Dentzau’s residence — a short two blocks away.
“It was close to home and a lot of people were coming,” Dentzau said. “So we decided to stay close to home.”
Both first-timers at the New Year’s Eve bash, they looked forward to everyone having a good time and were happy to say goodbye to 2009.
“I’ve been waiting for it,” Nigro said of the year’s end. “Work’s been hard, but it’s turning around.”
Dentzau agreed, adding that she hopes 2010 is a better year for everyone.
“I think everyone’s looking for the same thing,” she said. “For the economy to turn around.”
As for watching the history book close on 2009, Atherton said one year tends to be like any other at his age, but the past year has been especially hard on his family with his wife having a medical condition and his children facing a tough job market.
“When you get to be 67 it just gets to be another year,” he said. “But I’m not sad to see it go. It was a rough year.”
Al Tarrats, of Cape Coral, shared a similar view. He attended the Cape Harbour event with his wife, Ywai, two daughters, 7-year-old Destiny and 5-year-old Anglee, and family friends, Tom and Patty Kos of Pennsylvania.
“I’ll be glad to see things change, but I worry about this coming year,” Tarrats said, citing the health care debate and the growing deficit.
“We are not better off this year than we were last year,” Tom Kos added.
Still, in the hours before midnight, some hoped for the best in 2010.
“I just hope it’s going to be a better year,” Ywai Tarrats said. “For them, for us, for everyone.”
Others found promise in the unexpected.
“It’s a beautiful night,” Nigro said. “Should be a good night for sure.”
And a nice one it turned out to be. Jeff Gately, a partner of Rumrunners, The Joint and Run Aground at Cape Harbour, said this is the second year that the weather has been perfect for the New Year’s Eve event, only to turn ugly the following day.
“It allowed everyone to celebrate without having to take shelter,” he said.
Gately called the celebration a success, adding that a tremendous number of people showed up for the festivities. He said Rumrunners alone served 920 dinners.
“So that’s nearly just a thousand people there, so I think there was probably two or three times that as a whole,” Gately said.
He added that the range of dining options, from street vendors to upscale restaurants, drew a mixed crowd to the bash.
“It was truly a family event. It wasn’t geared just toward the adults,” Gately said. “It really reached all socioeconomic groups.”
Local rock-jam band The Geek Skwad kept people dancing throughout the evening, and the only surprise Gately could report on was the ease at which the celebration went off.
“It just seemed much easier this year than years past,” he said.
The Resort at Marina Village at Tarpon Point also hosted a New Year’s Eve celebration that featured dinner, dancing and music, along with a fireworks show viewed from the 17th floor of the hotel. Gary Locke, general manager of The Resort, said the event doubled as a grand opening party.
“Fantastic,” he said of how the night went. “Just a really beautiful event.
“We had about 550 people all outside. The weather was beautiful, and everyone had a great time,” Locke said. “The fireworks went off beautifully. It was a great evening.”
Calling the event a success, Locke said the hotel would like to host a similar New Year’s Eve bash for 2010. He added that the hotel was near capacity for Thursday’s celebration.
“Everyone was very positive, and hopefully we’re be doing it again next year,” Locke said. “Maybe not quite the grand version, but if at all possible we’d like to do something similar.”