Despite a chill in the air Friday night, local residents and area visitors celebrated the start of the weekend in Cape Coral with carnival rides, festival fare and British rock music.
The sixth annual Coconut Festival, sponsored by the city of Cape Coral and Capital Bank, kicked off at 5 p.m. at Sun Splash Family Waterpark. The event spans three days - Friday through Sunday - and each day has a theme. Friday was designated as Coco British Rock night, with performances by two bands.
The Nowhere Band treated the crowd to the well-known music of the Beatles, while Led Zepagain - a Led Zeppelin tribute band - performed what it knows best. Samoan fire dancers were also planned.
Cape resident Chrystie Arroyo stopped by Friday night with her mother, Noelia Feltz, and her children, 7-year-old Ellize Ortiz and 4-year-old William Ortiz. It was her and her children's first time at the festival.
"I heard so much hype about it," Arroyo said.
"I'm loving it," she added. "The kids are having a ball."
Feltz explained that she has been coming to the event since its first year.
"I wanted to see what the Coconut Festival was all about," she said. "It was a lot of fun."
Feltz has continued to come back for the music, food and ambiance.
"We decided to make it a family affair," she said of this year's festival.
They were not the only ones to make Friday night at the park family night. David and Christina Underwood, of Miami, were spending the time with her parents and their 2-year-old son, James.
"So far, so good," Christina Underwood said as stopped at a booth to play a carnival game.
"I'm excited about the Beatles and the Led Zeppelin band," she added.
First-timers to the festival, Underwood explained that she and her family specifically drove over from the east coast to spend the day and evening with her parents, who are residents of the Cape.
"I think it's a fun nice family type of environment," she said.
Admission is $5 per person, but children age 5 and under are free. Parking is also free.
Also in attendance Friday night was Cape resident Steven Casman. He was making his way through the heart-pounding carnival rides with his son Oleg, 18, and his son's friend, 16-year-old Alex Conrad.
"It's fun, it's safe, it's clean," he said of the festival, adding that they come every year.
Casman noted that they also enjoy the food, like sausage and peppers.
Oleg Casman said he was looking forward to funnel cake, and maybe a gyro.
"They're good," the teen added of the carnival rides. "They're fun."
Saturday has been deemed Coco American Rock, and the popular '80s rock band Night Ranger will perform. Their hits include "Sister Christian," "You Can Still Rock in America," "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" and "Goodbye." Draw the Line, an Aerosmith tribute band, and local group DVS will also play.
There will be a fireworks show Saturday at 9 p.m., between the bands.
On Sunday, the Coconut Festival will feature the area's best cheerleading squads competing for bids to the state event known as Cheer Florida. Sunday has been appropriately tagged as Coco Cheer day.
For the first time this year, Coco Idol is being held. On Friday, children in three separate age groups could compete in the preliminary round. The top three singers from each age group will move on to the final round Saturday night. The overall winner takes home a $100 cash prize and the title of Coco Idol.
The festival runs Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.
Sun Splash Family Waterpark is at 400 Santa Barbara Blvd. S.
For information about the sixth annual Coconut Festival, call 573-3125 or visit: www.CocoFest.com.