SWFL prepares for New Year’s Eve festivities
DOWNTOWN FORT MYERS
The sights and sounds of 2019 are approaching.
“It’s great that we have our own ball drop,” Diana Harrison said. “We don’t have to share it with New York.”
The NYE Downtown Countdown in Fort Myers is expected to have a large crowd. And with all the big festivities happening, there is an even bigger emphasis on safety this year.
“Honestly, the things that happened at Zombie Con and I’m kind of afraid of it actually,” Sylvia Dunnigan said, a Fort Myers resident. “I don’t think it would be for me a safe place that I would feel in coming. Plus alcohol and all that stuff, so I feel a lot comfortable and safer at home.”
The Fort Myers Police Department is adding an increase in surveillance and patrols.
Traffic is also a concern. Many roads downtown have been blocked off to make way for vendors.
Still, local restaurants are also gearing up for business and look forward to welcome those to their establishments to celebrate the start of 2019. 10 Twenty Five owner, Chad Zollinger, plans to have his soft opening specifically on New Year’s Eve at his Cape Coral restaurant.
“We thought it was a good opportunity for us to get a test and see how well we do and get a little bit of excitement and a little fun,” Zollinger said. “You can’t mess up when everybody’s having a good time.”
Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson said everyone should just come out and enjoy.
“Relax and take in your beautiful city,” Henderson said. “We’re the safest place we’ve been in the history of the city. We have all kinds of technology that has been deployed that keep us safer.”
FORT MYERS BEACH
Music is being performed live, the ball is ready to drop at midnight, and everyone is anticipating the fireworks show on Fort Myers Beach.
FMB has been packed since early this morning, a long day of celebration. Not only to celebrate the new year — the town is also celebrating its 23rd birthday Monday.
“Being down here in the sunshine where everyone is so happy, it’s amazing,” said Kim Weiss, who is visiting from New York with her family. “And Fort Myers is a beautiful beach.”
For the Weiss family, there is no better way to ring in the new year than enjoying a vacation on FMB. It’s become a tradition, Weiss said, which starts at the beach and ends with a nice family dinner.
“The crowd is big down here,” Weiss said. “But it’s friendly, and everyone is conscious of the kids, which is nice because, as a parent, it’s different for a “New Year’s Party.”
For Charlie Weiss, the party is getting stay up late.
“Fireworks — they are so cool in the sky when they light up,” Charlie said.
Charlie’s older sister, Amelia, prefers watching the ball drop.
“We always have to watch it on TV,” Amelia said.
No matter what attracts people most during New Year’s Eve celebration on Fort Myers Beach, people find ways to enjoy themselves with friend and loved ones.
“We’re going to have dinner tonight and hopefully some dancing and entertainment while enjoying the company of my son and future daughter-in-law,” Dennis Drzewiwcki said.
Business owners are excited to also help provide a space for celebration of 2019.
“We are always open arms here at FMB,” said Terry Persaud, owner of Sunset Beach Tropical Grille. “Sunset Beach customers can come out and enjoy our beachfront, pull out their chairs and watch. We’re going to have light music until 2 a.m.”
As a reminder to people on FMB tonight, the bridge will close at 11:45 p.m. for the fireworks display. Once the show ends, the bridge will reopen only for traffic leaving the beach until 1:15 a.m.
In an hour, the sky will light up at Naples Pier, as hundreds of people come together to celebrate the end of 2018 and welcome the beginning of 2019.
The City of Naples is hosting its New Year’s Eve fireworks show Monday.
People WINK News spoke to shared their resolutions for the coming new year.
“Starting tomorrow, I’ve been smoking cigarettes for a long time, and I’m quitting as of tomorrow,” Jim Hofmann said.
Hoffman and dozens of other people set their sights on things to come. Others said they are more content living in the moment and enjoying the simple things.
“This is paradise,” Escher Mendez said. “I love it here. It’s beautiful. I love Naples. I love the west coast. It’s beautiful.”
People of all ages are able to enjoy the fireworks and fun at Naples Pier.
“I really like the fireworks,” Melanie Leon said. “It’s my favorite thing to see.”
Fireworks Manager Marcus Haupt and his team spent 48 hours on the barge off Naples Pier to prepare various pyrotechnics for the fireworks display. They loaded more than 100 containers.
“We like to be able to do this for people,” Haupt said. Obviously, we get paid to do it, but we enjoy it, and that’s why we’re doing it.”
The fireworks display starts at 7 p.m. at Naples Pier, and the pier reopens at 11 p.m.
“That’s what it’s all about,” Haupt said. “That’s what our company is about. We bring joy to people when you have a holiday, so that’s what we do.”