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Chamber takes charge of July celebration

By Staff | May 18, 2012

PHOTO PROVIDED Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce expects the July 4th fireworks celebration to be bigger and better this year.

After enduring two years of uncertainty about the annual 4th of July Celebration, the Sanibel Captiva Chamber of Commerce is taking charge of the event as the headline sponsor.

The gala fireworks event is a major draw for residents and tourists alike. With the fundraising effort already under way by the Chamber, the show is expected to be bigger and better than ever this year.

“Within the past two months we’ve gotten a great response not only from Chamber members but the community,” said Brigit Stone-Budd, Chamber director of marketing. “People are donating because they have family and friends that visit them every year for this event.”

Sharon and Judy Michie took on the challenge on short notice in 2010 when it became apparent that City of Sanibel budget cutbacks put the celebration in jeopardy of not being held at all. The Michies, who operate a high-end rental accommodations business, did not want islanders or guests to go without the patriotic celebration.

The mother-daughter team raised enough money through contacts and an online donation effort to “Save the Fireworks.” They guided and funded the celebration again last year before the city invited the Chamber to take over operations this year. The fireworks firm Zambelli Brothers are working with the Chamber to ensure everyone enjoys a fabulous show.

“We would like to thank Sharon and Judy Michie for their hard work over the past two years raising the funds to ensure that Sanibel and Captiva continued this great tradition,” said Chamber president Ric Base.

Festivities, as always, begin in the cool of the morning with the popular parade that begins on Periwinkle Way at Tarpon Bay Road. Thousands of spectators line Periwinkle to view and enjoy the hour-long procession east that ends on Casa Ybel Road.

The fireworks are launched at dusk at the bayside water’s edge at the foot of Bailey Road where it has been located for the last five years.

The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club once again is hosting the Sanibel & Captiva Fireworks Party with valet parking being offered along with live music, food and beverage service and face painting for the kids. With its clubhouse and fairways in close proximity to the fireworks launch site the Dunes offers one of the best viewing spots on the island.

“I’m most excited to bring it back to the Dunes because that is a fun, relaxing, comfortable way to enjoy the party,” said Stone-Budd.

The Chamber seeks to get more sponsors on board to keep this major event well funded, assuring that it continues to be a spectacular display that has been an island tradition for more than 20 years.

“There are several sponsorship categories and we are asking businesses and individuals to help support our 2012 fireworks event to make sure it is a traditional 4th of July celebration in true Sanibel style,” said Base.

Anyone interested in sponsorship should call Stone-Budd at (239) 472-8255 or email services@sanibep-captiva.org.