Crowds gather on Fort Myers Beach for New Year’s Eve celebrations

Toned down New Year’s celebrations are expected this year, as most large events are canceled because of the pandemic.

People are still finding a way to celebrate, as was evident Thursday on Fort Myers Beach.

As the sun goes down, more people are coming out. You wouldn’t know we’re in the middle of a pandemic. Many people who spoke with WINK News said they feel safe being in an outdoor area and they’re welcoming 2021 with open arms.

I feel very optimistic 2021 will be much better and I feel like there’s good things coming in 2021,” said Pete Vale of Naples.

“2020, goodbye!” exclaimed Chrissy Essary, who’s visiting from Chicago.

Essary and her family are here to ring in the new year. It isn’t their normal celebration – or normal circumstances – but they’re still trying to make the most of what Southwest Florida has to offer.

We’re kind of sad about no fireworks, and no ball drop, but we’re going to assume that our neighbors are going to shoot fireworks and we’re gonna sit on our balcony with our good champagne and we’re going to enjoy our neighbors shooting their fireworks off,” she said.

Jason Ingream, the owner of Mangorita’s in Times Square, is trying to make up for the town’s canceled plans.

“We’re going to have a ball drop starting this year from my third floor,” he said. “It’s a sense of tradition, you know, to be able to provide that to the folks that are down here, that have left a state maybe that shut down, to allow them to have some of that freedom maybe that they’re not going to have back at home.”

Ingream welcomes the crowds.

“It’ll be a very busy day; it looks like traffic is backed up pretty far, so that’s always a good sign.”

People don’t seem too concerned about COVID-19.

“We try not to think about it … I hope that that doesn’t happen. We wear our masks inside and when we checked into the hotel, we put our masks on,” said Joanne Smith of Matlacha.

“It still is a virus but we are smart with our handwashing and our sanitizing and our masks, and we feel safe,” Essary said.

Reporter:Gail Levy
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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