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Celebrate Independence Day With Family-Friendly Activities

Baseball, barbeque and dazzling fireworks displays are some of the ways visitors and residents of Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands will be celebrating Independence Day this year. Following is a sampling of activities being offered this Fourth of July:
July 4th & Harpoon Harry’s 20th Anniversary Party: July 4 - 6
Celebrate Independence Day all weekend long with live music, contests, and kids crafts. Watch the fireworks display over the water at 9 p.m. on July 4. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda,, Tel: 941-637-1177)

Redneck Yacht Club 4th of July Fireworks Weekend: Friday, July 5 – Sunday, July 7
Bring out the ATV, swamp buggy, mud truck or curiosity for the Redneck Yacht Club 4th of July Weekend at Florida’s largest off-road park. Gates open 9 a.m. on Friday and close Sunday at 4 p.m. Events include Saturday night fireworks and performance by the DAMN OUTLAWS as well as a weekend of professional truck races. Weekend pass is $55 (1-888-71-TICKETS or cash only at gate). (44570 Bermont Rd (CR 74), Punta Gorda,, Tel: 239-209-3773)

22nd Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim
There is no registration and no rules with the exception of using common sense and courtesy for this annual swim across the Peace River. The swimis intended to be a happening rather than a race.Hundreds of swimmers participate, many donning red, white and blue attire. The Freedom Swim is scheduled to begin at noon with an 11:55 a.m. discussion with swimmers.
The swim will commence from the public beach at the west side of the north end of the southbound U.S. 41 Bridge and end at Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda. Parking is available both at Fishermen’s Village and on the public land on the east side of the north end of the northbound bridge. Reach the public beach either by traversing the shoreline under the two bridges, or from the west side of the U. S. 41 right of way walk directly onto the beach without trespassing on the private property between the beach and the defunct Sea Horse Marina. A trolley will be running between Fishermen’s Village and the public beach from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

Although there will be numerous vessels escorting the swimmers across the river; each swimmer is responsible for their own safety and their own support team. Swim with a buddy, it’s safer and more fun. Various law enforcement agencies and the Coast Guard will be on the water to help assure a safe event. Vessels will be required to operate at idle speed in the Peace River Channel from the U. S. 41 Bridge to Marker Number 2 while swimmers are in the Channel. Boating safety is not an accident.

PLEASE NOTE: (updated 7/3/13)
If you will be partipating in the freedom swim, please review any health advisories that may be listed at

4th-Fest 2013, Punta Gorda’s Annual Independence Day Celebration
The festival is a family-friendly event celebrating the USA with nonstop entertainment including a Kid’s Fun Zone, unique vendors and of plenty of fun food and ice cold beer. Water-Mania, a group of over a dozen giant waterslides staged in Laishley Park, is this year’s highlight. Live music performances including The Boogiemen Rock & Soul Revue just before the fireworks from 6:00p.m. til 9:00 p.m. and Jack Michael & Drive 31 immediately after the fireworks scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m. Admission is a $3 donation.All rides/food/beverage require tickets, except waterslides & bounce houses which accept tickets or an all-day wristband. An all-day wristband for waterslides and bounce houses is $10 per day.(Laishley Park, Punta Gorda,, Tel: 941-637-5953)

Annual 4th of July Celebration at Fishermen’s Village Waterfront Mall
Live music starts at 11 a.m. with 'Beans and Seeds' 11 am - 3 pm; followed by 'Mercy' 5 - 9 pm. Family friendly activities include 'Metamasque' face painting and “Jeff the Juggler.” End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display over the water. Admission and parking are free. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda,, Tel: 941-639-8721)

4th of July Fireworks Show and 3rd Annual Cajun Festival
The Cajun Fest will be held on July 4th on Dearborn St., Englewood.  Live Cajun Music, Cajun Food - jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish, red beans & rice, as well as burgers, dogs & pulled pork. Cold beverages.  Music begins at noon, kids’ activities & waterslide. All leading up to the best fireworks show on the west coast.Tax deductible donations accepted. (

Charlotte County Community Services Presents Bayshore 4th of July Celebration
Bring the whole family for a free, fun evening of music, dancing, and prizes before enjoying the fireworks over the Harbor. Pack your own picnic or have a delicious bite from our food vendors.

Dance to the music of CLIQUE. Dance contest with prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place begins at 8:30 pm. The event is 7:00 to 9 p.m. (Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Charlotte Harbor, Tel: 941-627-1628 x101)

Baseball, Fireworks and Hot Dogs
Celebrate all things American July 3rd when the Charlotte Stone Crabs take to the field at 6:30 p.m. against the Palm Beach Cardinals. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.; game starts at 6:30. Take advantage of the day’s special package which includes a game ticket and hot dog voucher for $10 when purchased in advance. The season’s largest fireworks display immediately follows the game. (; Tel: 941-206-4487)

Military Heritage Museum Independence Day Gathering
The Military Heritage Museum will hold its third annual “Party on the Roof!” on the top of the Herald Court Parking Garage in downtown Punta Gorda on July 4. Watch the fireworks from the best spot in town! Music with The Golden Hippo • Cash Bar • Hearty Hors D’oeuvres • Tables and Chairs Provided • Elevators Available.

Reservations are required. The event kicks off at 7:00 p.m. and lasts until the fireworks are over. Cost is $20 per person or $200 for a table of ten. (, Tel: 941-575-9002)


Fireworks Viewing Cruise
View Punta Gorda's Independence Day Fireworks display from the best vantage point: over the calm waters of the Peace River. King Fisher Fleet is offering an evening sightseeing cruise on Independence Day. Depart time from Fishermen's Village is 8:30 p.m. and will return following the fireworks display. Cost is $20 per adult and children age 11 and younger are $10 each. Reservations are recommended. (Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda,,Tel: 941-639-0969)

July 4thSail-A-Bration with Smoke and Roses Catamaran
Celebrate Independence Day on the water during a sailing charter and enjoy watching the Freedom Swim, sunset and fireworks aboard Smoke and Roses, Southwest Florida’s largest luxurious catamaran. The boat is available for charter for either four hours and 24 for up to six people. Advance reservations required. (, Tel: 605-366-7673 or email

‘It’s Time! Kayak & Canoe’ Offering Kayak Rentals for the Freedom Swim
For those interested in being part of the Freedom Swim without swimming, ‘It’s Time! Kayak & Canoe’ is offering single kayak rentals for $30, doubles for $45. Boats must be reserved in advance and will be waiting for paddlers at the swim’s starting point and can be left at Fishermen’s Village. Boaters are responsible for transportation back to the launch. (, Tel: 941-255-3686, ask for Mike or Audrey)