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Fort Myers Beach New Year’s Eve party and birthday bash all in one

By Staff | Dec 24, 2015

This year it’s the big 2-0 for the Town of Fort Myers Beach, which just so happened to become incorporated on Dec. 31 two decades ago.

That said, this year’s New Year’s Eve bash in Times Square should be a noisy one.

“It’s always huge, and this year we’re expecting as many if not more than ever,” said Adam Leicht, the town’s program coordinator. “The fact it’s the town’s birthday should make it even more special.”

At noon, town dignitaries both past and present will commemorate the occasion with public comments, and celebratory cupcakes will be handed out for free courtesy of local bakery Cupcakes in Paradise.

Current mayor Anita Cereceda will be among those at the ceremony. Back in 1995, she oversaw the incorporation while serving a previous stint as mayor.

“This will be emotional for me, to think about all that’s happened in these 20 years,” she said. “Personally, I lost both my parents during this time and also a brother.

“And so much, of course, has happened for the town. It will be nice to have a moment to reflect and I’m also excited about looking ahead.”

Beginning about 1 p.m. a lineup of musical acts begins, running through the midnight countdown.

At that time, the customary New Year ball will descend at the foot of the public pier, followed by a 20-minute fireworks show. The donations total for the show stood at $17,150 as of Dec. 7, according to Town Hall.

Area residents should know that the Sky Bridge will be closed New Year’s Eve to on-island traffic after the fireworks display from 12:15 a.m. to 1:15 a.m. Both lanes will be dedicated to off-island motorists.

Those attempting to leave the island right at the end of the fireworks can expect about a 2-hour trip to get over the bridge.

“My advice is to either leave right when the grand finale begins, or just relax with a beach walk and wait out the traffic,” said Don Stilwell, the Fort Myers Beach town manager. “Anything in between is going to be difficult – that’s just the way it is.”

The 3rd Street home of 10-year Beach resident Frank Tomaiolo will be popular as usual that night, as he lives on a canal just a block from the action.

“I’ll have plenty of friends watching it from my deck, and I’m sure they’ll the usual 25 boats or so filled with families,” he said. “It’s such a great event and a great way to make our visitors remember Fort Myers Beach. I know people talk about it when they go home.”

Would he go as far to say his Times Square tops the one in the Big Apple?

“My goodness, yes,” Tomaiolo said. My daughter lives in Manhattan and she wants nothing to do with it. She’d rather be here.”