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Independence Day Parade accepting entrants

By Staff | Jun 11, 2019

Entry forms are now being accepted for one of the islands’ hometown holiday traditions.

The 29th Annual Independence Day Parade will take place on July 4 at 9:30 a.m. Businesses, organizations, families and more are invited to take part by submitting a form, plus a nominal fee. Participants are encouraged to decorate their vehicle or float as part of a friendly competition.

Trish Phillips, a member of the Friends of Don – a volunteer group that organizes the parade, explained that her father, Don Bissell, came up with the idea. At the time, he was a member of the island’s Realtor group and thought a parade was one way for it to give back to the community.

“That a little hometown parade would be a good fit,” she said.

Phillips explained that the Realtor group ran the event for the first three years. But then her father passed away during that time, and the board considered not continuing the new tradition. However, a core group of helpers with the event – including her mother – wanted to keep the parade going.

“So they formed the Friends of Don, and we’ve been doing it ever since,” Phillips said.

The theme for the 2019 parade is “Seas the Day.”

The grand marshal is the non-profit organization Captains for Clean Water.

“With all the water quality issues that we’ve been going through the last year, and the fight to get back to the beautiful seas and waters that we have,” she said of selecting it and the theme for this year.

The parade route starts out at Tarpon Bay Road and Periwinkle Way. The participants will travel eastbound on Periwinkle – past the judges near Palm Ridge Road – and then exit at Casa Ybel Road. Phillips noted that the roads along the route will close down to traffic from about 9 a.m. to noon.

“We have usually a little over 50 – that’s named entries,” Phillips said.

She explained that an entry might have a truck and trailer or even three to four vehicles.

Past participants have included service groups like the Boy Scouts and Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Club, along with non-profits like the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife. For the first time, a marching band from a high school took part last year.

As for the competition aspect of the parade, awards will be handed out for the: best float for commercial, small entry, not-for-profit and family; best salute to the U.S. military; most patriotic; best nature theme; best original design; and best music. Originally, there were only a few awards.

“It’s actually grown,” she said of the number of categories.

A panel of at least three judges will pick the winners.

“They actually get a plaque,” Phillips said of the top vote-getters.

Parade entry forms can be picked up at the Bank of the Islands on Sanibel.

The fees are $15 for a not-for-profit or non-commercial and $30 for commercial.

“The earlier you turn it in, the closer to the front of the parade you are,” she said.

Those interested are invited to submit a form and take part.

“It’s loads of fun and it’s to be part of the community,” Phillips said.

“It’s a hometown feeling and that island magic,” she added.

For spectators planning to come out and simply enjoy the parade, event organizers recommend that they bring a blanket or beach chair, as well as bring water and wear sunscreen and bug spray.

“We encourage everybody to get there early,” Phillips said.

Parade participants have been known to pass out items, so bringing a bag is also helpful.

“The kids – and even adults, I guess you could say – walk away with a bag full of treats and goodies,” she said, adding that candy, water bottles and even watermelon slices have been handed out. “The Shell Crafters have passed out handmade shell crafts. All sorts of goodies are given away.”

In order to raise funding to support the following year’s parade, event T-shirts and tank tops are sold. Currently available for sale at the Banks of the Islands on Sanibel, all are priced at just $10 each.

Sanibel Community Park will serve as the designated handicap parking lot for the event.

For more information or questions about the entry form, or to volunteer to help out at the parade, contact Trish Phillips at 239-246-2981 or Trish.Phillips@mysanibel.com.

The Bank of the Islands is at 1699 Periwinkle Way.