It's official. The Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral has dropped the popular July 4th community celebration Red, White & BOOM from its 2014 events schedule for lack of a title sponsor.
"Our board waited until Jan. 15 to find a sponsor," said Chamber president Mike Quaintance. "We especially wanted the commitment for three years ($50,000 per year). I informed Parks and Rec Director Steve Pohlman of the decision (Wednesday)."
The patriotic celebration drew in excess of 20,000 people every year to the shores of the Caloosahatchee River at the Cape Coral Bridge. RE/MAX Realty Team has been the title sponsor for the past four years, but informed the chamber in August that it was not continuing its sponsorship.
The Chamber searched for a replacement sponsor for more than four months without success. On Wednesday, the Chamber Board of Directors pulled the plug on the event from its 2014 business plan.
"It leaves a void," said Quaintance. "It was an important part of the community. It's a major loss."
According to Pohlman, the city's position on taking over the event as a city function at this time is - "no position."
"We will evaluate all the options available and what is required to provide the community with an event of that scope," said Pohlman. "We should have our evaluation finished between the end of January and mid-February."
Asked if a scaled-down event would be considered by the city for 2014, Pohlman said, "We will evaluate all options."
With Red, White & BOOM off its plate, the chamber turns its focus in the direction of the needs of its membership by planning advocacy, education and business development events. Quaintance said plans are in the works for an advanced leadership class through Keiser University as well as seminars on customer service, marketing and networking.
"Not having Red, White & BOOM will have an economic impact on the downtown businesses," Quaintance said previously. "People are usually looking to cool off, so they go into the restaurants, bars and stores. I'm sure those folks will be unhappy about it. It would be a big disappointment for the community not to have the fireworks. I suppose people would go to other fireworks displays around."
The chamber conducts a number of events that the general public can participate in throughout the year. Those include the popular Holiday Festival of Lights, which is celebrated downtown after Thanksgiving, a golf tournament, pub crawl, farmer's markets and candidate forums.