Here's what's happening around Southwest Florida to celebrate Independence Day:
The 2014 CenturyLink Prism Freedom 5K will take place at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge beginning at 7:30 a.m. The event is geared to runners and walkers of all levels of ability and will also include a one-mile fun run and kids' events, sponsored by RaceTrac.
Red, White and Boom starts at 4:00 p.m. and ends at 10:00 p.m. The Cape Coral Bridge, as well as Cape Coral Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard to the bridge, will be closing at 6:00 a.m. Vehicles attempting to turn east or west on Cape Coral Parkway from Del Prado Boulevard will be directed to make a U-turn and head north. There will be a free Boom bus with handicap accessibility picking up at all the downtown parking lot locations including:
• Club Square
• Iguana Mia
• Big John’s
Parking is free at any of those locations.
There will be additional parking at the El Rey Jesus Church, located at 1629 SE 47th Street, for $10.00 per car (There's no charge for handicap parking.).
The Great American Picnic at Cape Harbour will include live music, a farmers' market, a pet parade (pets line up at 11:30 a.m.) and various contests, including best patriotic hat (all ages), water balloon tossing (ages 5- 16), watermelon eating (ages 5- 16) and best patriotic cupcake (all ages). The event ends at 3:00 p.m. Admission is free.
The Chiquita Lock will be open until midnight. The extended hours are for the convenience of boaters attending the Red, White and Boom fireworks celebration and other festivities. The lock will resume normal operating hours after midnight. (Daily operating hours are 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.)
CITY OF FORT MYERS
The River District Alliance is hosting the annual Freedom Fest featuring food, five outdoor stages with live music, a kids zone, a craft beer area and more. The block party takes place from 5:00 until 11:00 p.m., but people are welcome to stay downtown until 2:00 a.m. Popular Rolling Stones tribute band U.S. Stones performs on the main stage from 8:00 until 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 until 11:00 p.m. Fireworks start at 9:30 p.m. and will be launched from the city pier. Admission is free. There will be free parking everywhere, except in the city parking garages. Lawn chairs and coolers are allowed in Centennial Park, but not elsewhere.
Edison & Ford Winter Estates is offering free admission to children, ages 15 and under, on July 4. Spend the day with Edison Ford from 9:00 a.m. 5:30 p.m. with a self-guided audio tour of the museum, historic homes, gardens and laboratory. Did you know the Fourth of July was Thomas Edison's favorite holiday? He would devote the entire day to his children, waking up early to set off fireworks. Celebrate America's birthday at Florida's own "National Treasure".
Tropicana Mobile Home Park will be featuring The Calendar Girls of SWFL in America's Got Sweethearts Patriotic Extravaganza from 4:30 until 8:00 p.m. at the Tropicana Clubhouse, located at 16711 McGregor Blvd. Tickets cost $5.00 and include the show and dinner. A silent auction will be held with all proceeds going to "Paws For Patriots," the charity of the Calendar Girls. Paws for Patriots supplies guide/service dogs for our veterans.
Bonita Springs' Fourth of July parade theme was selected by the students at Gospel Baptist Christian School. The 2014 theme will be Celebrating Faith, Freedom, and the Future. The participants in the parade will assemble at 8:00 a.m. at Bonita Drive, which is just south of Rosemary Drive, off Old 41 Road. The parade begins at 9:00 a.m., and lasts for approximately one hour. Trophy presentations will be made immediately after the Parade at Riverside Park across from the judges' booth.
The City of Bonita Springs will celebrate Independence Day with the annual Star Spangled Bonita event at Riverside Park. The Party in the Park will begin at 4:00 p.m. and include a kids' amusement area, the annual old-fashioned bed race, eating contests and live entertainment from The Sarah Hadeka Band and Railhead. The City of Bonita Springs will light up the night sky with a spectacular fireworks display and laser light show after dark.
The bed race will take place along Old U.S. 41 beginning at 5:00 p.m. Interested participants are asked to pre-register with the YMCA by visiting www.swflymca.org/programs/racesevents and completing the registration form. Admission to Star Spangled Bonita is free to the entire community. Food and beverages will be available for purchase with proceeds from the beverage sales going to the Bonita Springs Rotary. Please do not bring coolers or pets to the park.
FORT MYERS BEACH
The annual Fourth of July parade starts at 10:00 a.m. and travels along Estero Boulevard from Oaks Street to Times Square. The Matanzas Bridge will be closed from 9:30 a.m. until noon and 9:30 p.m. until midnight. The festival starts at noon at Times Square and features live music and a hot dog-eating contest at 2:00 p.m. The festival culminates with fireworks off the pier from 9:00 until 9:30 p.m. Admission is free. Parking is limited. There is free trolley service available all day.
SAN CARLOS PARK
The San Carlos Park Fourth of July Parade begins at the Ace Hardware Plaza at 8:30 a.m. and travels east on Sanibel Boulevard to San Carlos Boulevard and continues on San Carlos to Three Oaks Park. Lineup begins at 7:00 a.m. Show your community spirit and enter for free. The San Carlos Park Fire Department celebrates its 50 anniversary afterward at Three Oaks Park with bounce houses, live music, vendors and more. The Ace Hardware Plaza is located at 18911 S. Tamiami Trail.
San Carlos Park Fire District is inviting community members to celebrate their 50th Anniversary at Three Oaks Park immediately following the San Carlos Park Independence Day Parade. The celebration will include fire apparatus and tool demonstrations, bounce houses, free food, live music, vendor displays, craft tables, and face painting. If interested in being in the parade or having a table/booth at the celebration, contact Bonnie Jasper at 878-7624 or download an entry form at www.sancarlosfire.org.
The Naples Parade will last two hours and begin at 10:00 a.m. The parade travels along Broad Avenue South, Third Street South and Fifth Avenue South and lasts from 10 a.m. until noon.
A 20-minute fireworks display will be launched at 9:00 p.m. Naples residents are invited to bring chairs or blankets and pick a spot along the city beach from Lowdermilk Park to south of the pier for the best viewing spots in town. The fireworks can be seen all along the Naples beach. Personal use of sparklers or any fireworks is prohibited.
The Fourth of July Celebration takes place at Sugden Regional Park and features an ice cream social from 4:00 until 6:00 p.m., followed by music from 7:00 until 8:30 p.m. Food and drinks will be sold. The evening ends with fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Bring lawn chairs and blankets. Admission is free. Parking is available at nearby establishments.
The annual 1.5-mile Freedom Swim features hundreds of swimmers and boaters. It begins at 9:00 a.m. on the north end of the U.S. 41 bridge and ends at Fishermen's Village. That's followed by live bands, face painting and other activities starting at 11:00 a.m. with fireworks over Charlotte Harbor at 9:00 p.m. This year's bands will be The Garbage Men (from noon until 3:00 p.m.) and The Kollections Band (from 5:00 until 9:00 p.m.). All events are free, including the Freedom Swim. Fishermen's Village is located at 1200 W. Retta Esplanade.
This year's fireworks display will take place at Laishley Park. Festivities will begin at 11:00 a.m. with fireworks scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m.
Laishley Marina Boat Ramp will be closed for incoming and outgoing traffic from approximately 8:30pm until 9:30pm due to the fireworks display.
At the conclusion of the event, several streets in the vicinity of the event will be closed and traffic re-routed for efficiency and safety.
• W. Retta Esplanade will be closed at US 41 Northbound.
• All southbound traffic on Nesbit Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard will be routed eastward at East Olympia Avenue. Attendees are advised to then use Cooper Street for southbound travel.
Although parking will be available at Laishley Park, the old Punta Gorda Mall, and the Charlotte County Justice Center, some traffic will park off- site. Punta Gorda Police are asking all motorists entering the City of Punta Gorda via the Gilchrist Bridge (US 41 Southbound) to use caution and drive carefully. Do not stop on either bridge to watch the fireworks.
In addition, motorists need to be cautious of pedestrians crossing US 41 Northbound near Laishley Park to make their way to the event. Pedestrians need to utilize traffic signals and crosswalks to make their way across US 41 Northbound.
The 4th of July Fireworks cruise will be from 7:30 until 9:30 p.m. The cruise offers front row seats to view the Sanibel Island’s annual fireworks display, from the water. There will be complimentary soft drinks, bottle water and snacks. Otherwise, the event is BYOB. Click here for more information.
There will be a Pancake Breakfast at Sanibel Community Church, located at 1740 Periwinkle Way, starting at 7:00 a.m.
The Independence Day Parade Stars & Stripes of Sanibel & Captiva will begin at 9:30 a.m. (Parade Route begins at Tarpon Bay Road on Periwinkle Way to Casa Ybel Road).
The Boyscouts July 4th After Parade will begin at Jerry's Shopping Center, located at 1700 Periwinkle Way, at 10:30 a.m.
The Annual Road Rally will be held at Timbers Restaurant, located at 703 Tarpon Bay Road, at noon.
The Dunes July 4th Fireworks Party will begin at 6:00 p.m. at The Dunes Golf & Tennis Club, located at 949 Sand Castle Roa.
The Fireworks Display will begin at 9:00 p.m. Fireworks will be launched from the north end terminus of Bailey Road. The best viewing of the fireworks display is from the bayside of Sanibel and from any of the Sanibel Causeway Islands.
Uncle Sam's Sand Jam begins at Resident's Beach at noon. Families and friends flock to the beach early to secure a spot for the spectacular fireworks that begin at 9:00 p.m. Many spend hours sculpting sand into sea creatures or patriotic masterpieces for the annual sand sculpting contest. A DJ will play music all day and into the night with raffles, contests and hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks served. Parking and access is restricted to members at Resident's Beach. Please Bring your Resident's Beach ID to Gain Entrance.
Fireworks begin at dusk (around 8:30 p.m.) at Sugarland Sports Complex.