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Editorial: Is there a better place to watch fireworks?

By Staff | Apr 27, 2011

Last year, Sharon Michie made headlines when she helped collect more than $17,000 in donations to save the City of Sanibel’s annual Independence Day fireworks display.

This year, she trying to arrange for a more accessible location for residents and visitors to watching the patriotic explosions of red, white and blue. But she isn’t having any luck.

Michie has explored, without success, the possibility of moving the fireworks showcase from its traditional launch site — off north end terminus of Bailey Road — to an area where more people will be able to enjoy the display. According to Michie, off-island crowds begin setting up their seats along the Sanibel Causeway shortly after dawn, Bailey Road is too crowded and folks with limited funds may not be able to afford to watch the fireworks from The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, which hosts a yearly gathering with dinner and drinks.

But where would be a better location to set off fireworks?

Initially, Gulfside City Park was suggested as a possibility, receiving the endorsement of the Sanibel Fire & Rescue District pending some minor provisions. However, the city put a stop to further discussions related to that site due to concerns over noise pollution in consideration of nesting shorebirds and sea turtles.

South Seas Island Resort on Captiva was also suggested, but officials from Lee County’s Division of Environmental Sciences cited the prohibition of detonating fireworks “on the beach, upon the dunes or in the water adjacent to the beach in unincorporated Lee County.”

It seems like there isn’t a suitable alternative location anywhere on the islands.

However, we ponder two questions:

• Given the location of an active bald eagle nest adjacent to the Bailey Road site, why isn’t the city concerned about noise pollution there?

• Why would South Seas Island Resort be allowed to stage fireworks displays on the day after Thanksgiving, on New Year’s Day at during various celebrations throughout the year, but not on the Fourth of July?

We support Michie’s idea to provide a more accessible location for a fireworks display on the islands, one which could not only be enjoyed by our residents and day-trippers but which might also encourage off-islanders to visit Sanibel or Captiva, enjoy dinner out on the islands or even consider an overnight or weekend stay.

If we had our druthers, we’d suggest that the South Seas location would make the most sense. It could certainly accommodate a large group of Independence Day revelers, their staff has plenty of experience in staging fireworks displays, the resort has demonstrated a long history in caring for nature as well as protecting the environment and — perhaps best of all — it would provide islanders the convenience of staying close to home on the Fourth.

Does anybody out there have another valid suggestion? Michie would certainly like to hear them. We would encourage our readers to submit their ideas to us — we will pass them along to event planners. But with only 11 weeks to go until July 4, we hope to receive your thoughts sooner than later.

— Reporter editorial