Red, white and boom: From Naples to Fort Myers, SW Florida is ready to celebrate

In this file photo, members of the Naples Kiwanis Club hold up a large Garrison American Flag as they walk in the annual Fourth of July parade in Naples that started at Broad Avenue and Third Street South, traveled down Fifth Avenue South and ended at City Hall. Thousands of spectators lined the streets for the two hour long parade.

Photo by LEXEY SWALL // Buy this photo

In this file photo, members of the Naples Kiwanis Club hold up a large Garrison American Flag as they walk in the annual Fourth of July parade in Naples that started at Broad Avenue and Third Street South, traveled down Fifth Avenue South and ended at City Hall. Thousands of spectators lined the streets for the two hour long parade.

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Fourth of July is just around the corner and many are anticipating the annual City of Naples/Collier County fireworks extravaganza. Residents from all over Southwest Florida come to the Naples coastline to watch the celebration of America’s independence.

About 30,000 people crowd the beaches and surrounding areas to get a good view of the 25 minute show, causing congestion and traffic jams. To make this year’s outing more fun and less stressful, here is a guide to festivities and tips to navigate the event.

The fun starts early; at Naples Botanical Garden, 4820 Bayshore Drive, Naples. $9.95, adults; $4.95, children 4-14 show your patriotic spirit by wearing red, white and blue and receive $5 off your admission; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 643-7275 for more information.

The fireworks show will begin at 9 p.m. Sunday.

WAVV 101.1 FM will play patriotic music to coincide with the display, which will be shot from the end of the Naples Pier.

Fireworks can be seen from any Naples beach, but for clear views go to any of the beaches south of Park Shore. The best views are closest to Naples Pier. However, the crowds and congestion are worse in that vicinity.

City officials recommend going to the beaches north of Naples Pier like Lowdermilk Beach or more south.

People in the know head to the public beach behind the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club. Celebrants there can enjoy drinks from the hotel’s Sunset Beach Bar while watching the show.

Handsome Harry’s has some outdoor tables that allow diners to see the fireworks from old Naples. Reservations are recommended, however; call 434-6400

Another good idea is to grab an early dinner at any of the restaurants adjacent to the beach and then walk over to the show after.

For boat lovers, Cruise Naples will take passengers to see the fireworks onboard the W/V Double Sunshine. The price is $60 per adult and $50 per child, including a small serving of Fourth of July treats and a glass of champagne when the show commences. For more information or to reserve a seat, call 263-4949.

The annual City of Naples Fourth of July parade will be at 10 a.m. on Saturday. It starts at Broad Avenue South, heading to Third Street South proceeding north to 5th Avenue South, turning east on 5th Avenue South to 8th Street South heading south past City Hall, to end at 8th Street South and 8th Avenue South, by the Norris Center.

Revelers can park in public garages and lots and at meters for both the parade on Saturday and the fireworks Sunday. Parking in right of ways is also permitted if the vehicle is not blocking a driveway or someplace where a no parking sign is posted. Parking on private property, whether it be businesses or homes, is restricted.

Naples Pier and Lowdermilk Beaches each have metered parking lots for 25 cents every 20 minutes or $8 a day, but those spaces must be vacated by 11 p.m. There is also a limited number of metered parking lining the streets by many of the Naples beaches, which are free after dusk and do not have to be vacated by a certain time.

Naples Beach officials advise coming to the beach early for parking and staying for the show.

There are free parking spaces, lots and some garages around Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South.

Car pooling is suggested because of the limited parking. Be prepared to wait for a full hour leaving the show for traffic to snake out of the area if you’re in old Naples; it’s better to bring some late evening snacks and linger on the beach for a while or find a local night spot wand wait it out.

Can’t get enough of Independence Day? Check out all the events you can attend:

Bonita Springs

■ Fourth of July parade, 9 a.m. Saturday, traveling south on Old 41 Road, turning right on Hampton Street and right onto Front Street, ending at Riverside Park, 27300 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs.

■ Party in the Park, live entertainment, water slide, dunking game, races, children’s activities, pie eating, hot dog and ice cream eating contests and a laser light show followed by a short fireworks show at dusk, 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday, Riverside Park, 27300 Old 41 Road, Bonita Springs. 949-6262

East Naples

■ Fourth of July Celebration, sponsored by the Collier County Parks and Recreation Department, from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 4, at Sugden Regional Park in East Naples. All parking will be off site at the Government Complex, 3301 U.S. 41 E. Free shuttles will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fireworks begin at dusk from Lake Sugden at Sugden Regional Park, 4284 Avalon Drive, East Naples.

Estero

■ The Estero Historical Society will host the reading the Declaration of Independence at 1 p.m. Sunday across from the society¹s historic buildings in Estero Community Park, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd., Estero. Copies will be handed out to the public. As in previous years, the public will form a circle and take turns reading small sections of the Declaration. Bring lawn chairs. Refreshments will be served. Call 498-0415 or visit www.esterohistoricalsociety.com

Everglades City

■ Opening ceremony, 9:30 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. parade; 11 a.m. music, games, food, drinks, activities; 9 p.m. fireworks, McLeod Park, 208 S. Copeland Ave., Everglades City. 695-2695

Fort Myers Beach

■ Parade, 1 p.m. Sunday, from Topps Supermarket on Estero Boulevard heading north to the base of the Sky Bridge. 454-7500

■ Fireworks, dusk Sunday, at the pier. 454-7500

Marco Island

■ At Marco Island Residents’ Beach, “Uncle Sam’s Sand Jam” music will begin at noon and run through the fireworks at 9 p.m. Kids’ crafts also begin at noon and the second annual hot dog eating contest starts at 1 p.m., after which kids’ games and sand sculpture competitions begin. Judging will be at 3 p.m. There are food and drinks and souvenirs. Residents’ Beach ID is required. Information: 642-7778.

Miromar Outlets/Estero

■ Saturday, bloodmobile, 3 to 8 p.m. next to Reebok Outlet Store; Southern Extreme Water-Ski Team performance, 5 to 6:30 p.m.; 5:30 p.m. live music by Geek Skwad; dusk, fireworks. Bring lawn chairs or blankets, 10801 Corkscrew Road, Estero. Free. 948-3766

Naples

■ Fourth of July parade, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, starting at Broad Avenue South to Third Street South north to Fifth Avenue South and ending at Eighth Avenue South, Naples.

■ Fireworks, 9 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday, Naples Pier, 878 Fifth Ave. S., with viewing up and down Naples City beach, Naples. 213-7120

For military personnel

■ Active military personnel and veterans will be admitted to Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens for free today through Monday at 1590 Goodlette-Frank Road, Naples. Current military identification and a veteran’s organization card plus a photo ID is required. Guests of the military person will receive $2 off the regular admission of $19.95 for adults and $11.95 for children 3 to 12. Information: 262-5409

■ Past and present military personnel are invited to be part of the “Freedom Photo” at 10 a.m. Saturday at Harley-Davidson/Buell, 2160 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers. Wear your uniform, have your photo taken and enjoy a barbecue with live music. Information: (239) 275-4647

■ Free admission with one paid admission for active military personnel from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, 15000 Livingston Road, Naples.

■ Shula’s Steak House is offering a complimentary entree to veterans, reservists and active-duty men and women serving in all branches of service Sunday. The restaurant is at the Hilton Naples & Towers, 5111 U.S. 41 N., Naples. Bring your military ID or DD-214 for veterans. Reservations: 430-4999

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