The Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce announced this week it planned to pass the baton on the Cape's Fourth of July celebration.
Citing the economy, loss of a title sponsor and escalating costs, chamber officials said the organization will bow out of its role as the primary organizer of Red, White & BOOM!
Already, the doom-and-gloomers are saying that means there will be no July 4th blast in Cape Coral next year.
They may be right, but it's way too early to give up on what has become one of the city's best-attended annual celebrations.
Chamber officials have also said they are willing to lend a hand to any group or organization willing to step into a leadership role of planning the holiday festival that has included live music, food and beverage vendors and the largest fireworks display in Lee County, attracting an estimated 20,000 each year to the south Cape.
There are some suggestions on the table.
Councilmember Bill Deile suggests that a logical organizational alternative would be the downtown Community Redevelopment Agency. As Councilmember Deile points out, the annual event is held in their backyard and the CRA has the expertise to plan and host a major event.
The CRA also stands to benefit most from keeping the festival in the downtown. A move to, say, SunSplash, where the Coconut Festival has come into its own, has advantages that might appeal to other organizers, including the city itself, which could combine the late afternoon Independence Day blast with an early waterpark promotion.
Make that suggestion two.
Suggestion three might be a small admission charge, something a lot closer to the norm for an event that includes live music and the attendant food and festivities. Lest this be considered blasphemy in the Cape where most celebrations are free, consider: Events like these at Centennial Park in Fort Myers always include a charge and so it's something to consider, especially if the alternative is for BOOM! to go bust.
District 1 Councilmember Marty McClain had another suggestion this week.
"We are going to have to get the word spread, and get our heads together collectively," he said in an interview with The Breeze.
A citywide effort that, perhaps, includes partnerships. That sounds like option four. We're sure there are many more out there, even in these bad times.
The days when one business pretty much kicked in the cash to make free and fun synonymous with festivals in the Cape may be over, yet another victim of our failed economy,
But Red, White & BOOM! need not be.
We suggest the city ask for proposals, and perhaps consider one or two of its own. An event with a proven history that attracts 20,000-plus isn't something to give up on lightly. It may even emerge bigger and better yet.
- Breeze editorial