|Published:||Jun 23, 2010 9:49 PM EDT|
|Updated:||Jun 23, 2010 6:52 PM EDT|
Fort Myers, Fla - A Fourth of July with no fireworks?
That's what's happening in Fort Myers.
The city cancelled its annual celebration saying they don't have the money to pay for it.
Every 4th of July since 1987, people crowd Centennial Park to watch the fireworks and celebrate Independence Day.
For the first time in 23 years, this won't happen.
"We're not at all able to fund it this year with budget cuts back," said Don Paight, Executive Director of the Fort Myers Redevelopment Agency, which oversees the event.
Battling a budget deficit, the city may have to lay off workers or cut back salaries.
As a result they can't justify or afford to pay for the annual celebration.
"Do you fund public safety verses special events? In tough budget times decisions have to be made," Paight said.
People are shocked the celebration is cancelled.
"We went to it every year. It was good for the kids," said David Wazenski, of North Fort Myers.
"I feel sad for the people and children who aren't going to enjoy it ,but that's the way it is," said Lucy Mangina of Fort Myers.
Courtney Neuhausel, President of Sandbill Realty says it doesn't have to be .
Last year the company paid more than $30,000 dollars to help pay for the event.
This year, they offered to raise private funding for the entire event.
He says the city would not have to pay a dime.
They would only responsible for getting the permits.
"We understand the city's budget. No one asked for money," Neuhausel said.
However, the city still said no.
Paight says the reason is because there isn't enough time to put it all together.
"It's something that has to start a year in advance. To get the permits it takes 60 days. Even in someone came in tomorrow with a check, we still couldn't do it," he said.
Neuhausel says he tried to begin the planning process in January, but the players couldn't all get together.
He hopes to begin work on next year's celebration-- now.
"Everybody is in a bad way with the economy. The one thing people shouldn't have to worry about is something like this," he said.
There still will be 4th of July celebrations elsewhere in Southwest Florida.
There's the Red, White and Boom in Cape Coral and there's fireworks at Fort Myers Beach and in Naples.