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Fort Myers Beach brings 2020 into focus

January 8, 2020
By NATHAN MAYBERG (nmayberg@breezenewspapers.com) , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

The dawning of a new year also meant a new birthday for the Town of Fort Myers Beach which rang in its 24th anniversary Jan. 1 amid a crowded Times Square and lively fireworks display.

Two miles of traffic heading into Fort Myers Beach as far back as Summerlin Boulevard all week told the story of how in demand the town was for vacationers looking to celebrate 2020.

A 10-minute fireworks show put the finishing touches on the past decade as partygoers celebrate what they hope will be a new Roaring Twenties to match the often celebrated one of a century ago.

Article Photos

A 10-minute fireworks display ushered in 2020 at midnight off the pier at Times Square on Fort Myers Beach.

NATHAN MAYBERG

New Year's Eve on the beach started out with some treats courtesy of the Fort Myers Beach Parks and Recreation Department. At around noon, town employees started handing out 500 cupcakes purchased from Publix. Hannah Ramsey, Kendall Smith and Erin Adkins did the honors on behalf of the town before being relieved by four ladies who have been volunteering to dish out the popular cupcakes since the initial inauguration in 1995.

When Johanna Campbell, Betty Simpson, Cherie Smith and Lorrie Wolf first started with the cupcakes, they baked 1,500 of them at home along with some other friends. They all enjoy handing out the treats.

"We're still happy to be able to do it," Simpson said.

Campbell and Smith were on the original incorporation committee. "We are very, very proud of all the accomplishments we have been able to achieve all these years," Smith said. "This is our Independence Day," she said. The vote to incorporate the town was relatively close, Smith recalled "It was a heartstopping day," she said.

Incorporation was important so the residents could "control our destiny," Wolf said.

Ray Murphy, Town of Fort Myers Vice Mayor, was on the first town council. He led a crowd of several dozen cupcake eaters at Times Square Dec. 31 afternoon in singing "Happy Birthday" to the town.

The band Remedy took things from there, belting out "Little Wing," by Jimi Hendrix.

Melissa Corbett was in from Maine with her husband Jim and daughter Ashley. Melissa was eager to grab a cupcake which was not surprising after she relayed her story.

"It's freezing cold (in Maine) and we spontaneously jumped a flight," Mrs. Corbett said. "Within an hour I had to find a flight and a place to stay." They ended up finding a home to rent in Charlotte County. Renting a car was another story. After taking a cab home from the airport, it took them three days to find a car to rent up there, Mr. Corbett said. When Ashley needed cold medicine, her mother hopped on a bike and pedaled five miles to the closest Publix and rode the bike another five miles back home.

Despite all of that, "we're having a good time," Mrs. Corbett said. Her husband owns a concrete business which is busy during the summer so the winter is their family time. "Our New Year's resolution is to spend as much time together as we can," she said.

As midnight approached, a cool wind was felt in the air as revelers packed local restaurants, the beach and Times Square. Nearly every establishment open had some type of entertainment going, with bands playing up and down the beach. The High Tide Band was the last group to play Times Square, belting out some Rusted Root songs as the clock struck 12.

Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce President Jacki Liszak deemed the night a success. "It was amazing," she said. "The bars, restaurants and hotels were all full."

Liszak was also able to help secure enough funds from local business owners to put on the fireworks show. She said donations arrived just in time to ensure the beach had the light show it wanted.

 
 

 

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