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City considers New Year’s Eve party for teens

By Staff | Dec 2, 2015

At the end of Monday’s City Council meeting, Mayor Marni Sawicki brought forward an idea she received from some residents and polled fellow council members for their thoughts on creating a New Year’s Eve party for teenagers.

In a matter of days, Parks & Recreation Director Steve Pohlman and special events coordinator Todd King pulled together some details on what the department staff could accomplish in less than four weeks.

“I am the mother of two consistently bored teenagers in Cape Coral,” said Sawicki. “I just want to get your take on how to go forward with this.”

After a brief discussion, council decided to defer the details to the “experts” at Parks & Rec.

“First, in order to start an activity like this you have to come up with a theme,” said Pohlman. “It’s Futurefest 2K16, Back to the Future. To attract children we’re going to have to invest some dollars in decorations and things that will be part of the draw. Then we have to sell tickets hopefully to make it cost neutral. If we limit ourselves to just Cape Coral (teens) I think it’s a concern for the West Zone because our children do go to school in North Fort Myers.

“Our thinking is, in order to make this thing cost neutral, all schools would be invited because I don’t think we could get a gate of 3,500 just from Cape Coral,” added Pohlman. “There will be significant expense to put on a production that will make an impression, make parents happy, and the kids that attend will want to come back next year. With high school kids you have a turnover every four years, so what you have to do is build a reputation. We don’t have time to go out and get sponsors for this year, but it’s very sponsorable in the future.”

Staff kicked around the idea of a bonfire, welcoming parents to an adult area, fireworks display and a ball drop as well as opening the event to countywide high school students with proper ID and keeping the event going until midnight, an exception to the city’s 10 p.m. noise ordinance for loud music at such events.

Staff recommended Sun Splash Family Waterpark as the best choice for the venue because of space and available parking.

“In our brainstorming meeting we like the idea of a bonfire, the ball drop and even a Back to the Future movie,” said King. “Toning the music and noise down after 10 p.m. will be tough, but I’m willing to work with the neighbors to manage the boom boom of the base and still put on a fun event for the kids.”

Cape Police Chief Bart Connelly also addressed security concerns broached by council members, informing the panel that his department can make it work just as it does at any other community event in the city.

City Manager John Szerlag summed up the event for council in the form of seven points.

“The first point is, we are having the party,” Szerlag began. “The second point is, it will be at Sun Splash; third, it will go until midnight; and four is, we will open it up to high school students countywide, including homeschoolers, with a school ID. Number five, whatever Chief Connelly says he needs for security we will provide it; six, we will charge to make it cost effective; and seven, welcome council and parents who wish to come into the adult section.”