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Cape eyes possible New Year’s Eve fest

By Staff | Jan 8, 2016

It’s quite possible that Cape Coral could become the newest player in the New Year’s Eve celebration arena as soon as this year.

That is the sentiment expressed by City Council members Jim Burch and John Carioscia after the subject was discussed at the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board meeting on Tuesday.

“I think it could happen by next year,” said Burch, who also serves as chairman of the CRA. “If the decision is to go big right away then you run the risk of doing something you’ve not done before and be a failure. I think we should start with a conservative approach and let it get bigger later.”

It is the first time a New Year’s Eve celebration in the Cape has been discussed in a public venue. Nick Libretto of ABC Electric attended the meeting to ask the board members how they felt about the idea.

“I think it’s about time,” said Carioscia. “We are the largest city between Tampa and Miami and I think we need to have our own New Year’s Eve celebration.”

The discussion considered a few venues, from a small one on Southeast 47th Terrace to a super duper venue similar to the Red, White & Boom event at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge.

“I’m only for this if we don’t use any taxpayer dollars,” said Carioscia. “I think it is a tremendous sponsorship opportunity for area businesses and corporations. I’m looking to get total financial support, but I can be flexible.”

Given the fact that the Red, White & Boom celebration in July nearly was discontinued when the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral had trouble getting major sponsor commitments, the question becomes can the city line up enough sponsors for both Red, White & Boom and a New Year’s Eve bash?

Carioscia thinks the event will attract businesses wanting to take advantage with a sponsorship because being the first one a lot of eyes will be focused on it.

“Getting sponsors is a good idea and I think that is the way to go,” said Burch. “Most of the activity occurs in the right-of-way, so at least a portion of the logistics should be under the control of the city, such as safety and security issues.”

The consensus favored a family friendly event, possibly with a ball drop at 8 p.m. for families with young children.

“I especially like the idea of the early ball drop. That’s the top thing that I like about it,” said Burch.

Burch, who represents District 1 in which Southeast 47th Terrace and the Cape Coral Parkway venues being considered are located, said the celebration sounds like a good event for the downtown area while promoting both the city’s image and businesses in the area.

“My own opinion is that, No. 1, events like that can be good for the city,” said Burch. “We need to get a full vetting of the details to the council and city staff, and talk to residents in the neighborhoods to see if we can pull it off.

“Generally, it’s an entertaining idea for downtown and worthy of staff time,” continued Burch. “The people over at Parks & Rec do a very good job putting together events like this. They’ll get input from the South Cape Hospitality group and others and bring something back to the Advisory Board and the CRA.”

The New Year’s Eve discussion took somewhat of a “keep it in the Cape” approach, hinting that Cape residents would rather not cross the bridge to attend the New Year’s Eve event in downtown Fort Myers, which draws a very large attendance.

“We have to discuss details and get the ideas rolling,” said Carioscia. “I think starting it early enough is a good idea so families with kids can come celebrate when they otherwise might not go out. I think it can bring 30,000 people to the Cape. I think the Cape has really turned the corner.”

Just recently city staff pulled together the ideas and details to sponsor last week’s first New Year’s Eve celebration for teenagers at Sun Splash Festival Grounds.

“There’s a timeline to deal with,” said Carioscia. “If we can work out the details by March 1 I think there is enough time to get it done for next year at either venue they decide on. New Year’s is on a Saturday next year, too, which gives people a chance to sleep in on Sunday.”

There currently are two non-city sponsored New Years Eve events in Cape Coral.

Each year, an-open-to-the-public ball drop and fireworks display New Years Eve party is held at Cape Harbour, attracting an estimated 5,000 celebrants.

The South Cape Hospitality and Entertainment Associations also hosted again this year a New Year’s Eve Trolley event, which took participants to more than a dozen venues in the South Cape Entertainment District.

Red, White & Boom is the largest July 4th event in Lee County, attracting crowds of more than 25,000.