Independence Day Celebrations are Planned in the Southwest Florida Communities of Englewood, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. (June 25, 2014) – The annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim, live musical entertainment, and patriotic festivities including viewing Punta Gorda’s fireworks display by boat highlight this year’s Independence Day in Charlotte County, Fla. Following is a sampling of activities planned in the Southwest Florida communities of Englewood, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda for Fourth of July.

THURSDAY, JULY 3
American as Baseball, Fireworks and Stone Crabs
The Charlotte Stone Crabs take to the field July 3 at 6:30 p.m. against the St. Lucie Mets and are offering special packages for Independence Day. The Family Pack for $40 consists of four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas and for $15 the Classic Cookout package includes a reserved level ticket and all-you-can-eat picnic. Reserve these packages in advance. The patriotic fireworks display presented by Cool Today immediately follows the game. (www.stonecrabsbaseball.com; Tel: 941-206-4487)

FRIDAY, JULY 4 FESTIVITIES

The following events are scheduled to take place on Friday, July 4, 2014.

23rd Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim
Hundreds of swimmers are anticipated to make a patriotic splash during the 23rd Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River. This 1.5 mile leisurely swim requires the exercising of common sense (including swimming with a buddy) and courtesy. Many participants in this annual “blobblefest” will wear red, white and blue attire while floating on neon foam noodles or paddling either a standup paddleboard or kayak. Remember, this is not a race but a happening.

The Freedom Swim is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and participants are encouraged to arrive early for the discussion with swimmers. Participants will swim from the public beach at the west side of the north end of the southbound U.S. 41 Bridge in Charlotte Harbor to Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda.

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 former Sea Horse Marina. The trolley will be running between Fishermen's Village and the public beach between 8 a.m. and noon. 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. (www.fishville.com; Tel: 941-661-5622)

Annual 4th of July Celebration at Fishermen’s Village Waterfront Mall
Fishermen’s Village will host their annual 4th of July Celebration beginning with welcoming Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim participants at 9 a.m. Family-friendly activities can be enjoyed 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. and live music with the Garbage Men from noon – 3 p.m. and The Kollections 5 – 9 p.m. The evening ends with a spectacular fireworks finale over Charlotte Harbor beginning at 9 p.m. Admission and parking are free.  (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.fishville.com, Tel: 941-639-8721)

Harpoon Harry’s 4th of July’s Celebration
The terminus for the annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim is Harpoon Harry’s. To celebrate Independence Day and greet swimmers and their guests, the bar opens at 9 a.m. with a full menu available at 10 a.m. Planned are kids face painting, art & crafts, a hula-hoop contest, drink specials and more. DJ Franco will provide entertainment all day long until 8 p.m. when Heart N Soul takes the stage through 11 p.m. Harpoon Harry’s is a popular locale to watch the Fourth of July fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor, scheduled for 9 p.m. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.harpoonharrys.com, Tel: 941-637-1177)

Englewood Firecracker Festival
Patriotic family fun returns to Englewood’s Dearborn Street when the Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club hosts the Englewood Firecracker Festival. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a musical lineup beginning with Kate Keys and carrying through the day with Ellie Lee and Blues Fury, and The Mulch Brothers. Vendors will serve up fare including hot dogs, hamburgers and pulled pork and a beer tent along with other chilled beverages will keep festival-goers cool. Fireworks over Lemon Bay are anticipated to begin around 9 p.m. Admission is free and donations for the fireworks display are being accepted. (Dearborn Street, Englewood, www.lemonbaysunriserotary.com)       

4th-Fest 2014 at Laishley Park Presented by Grande Aire Services
Water-Mania, featuring a dozen waterslides, is the highlight of this family-friendly Fourth of July event in Laishley Park. Visitors can enjoy playing games, browsing through displays and vendors, fun food and cooling off with ice-cold beverages. Gator Nate & The Gladezmen take the state at 3:30 p.m. followed by The Boogiemen Rock-n-Soul Revue, a Fourth of July tradition, at 6 p.m. leading up to the patriotic fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor. Following the fireworks finale, the band Jack Michael & Drive 31 will give a special performance.

The fireworks display, presented by the famous Santore Brothers of Garden State Fireworks, will begin at 9 p.m. over the spectacular Peace River.

Gates open at 11 a.m. Admission is $3 for the fireworks display and a wrist band for unlimited daily use of the waterslides is $10. (Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, www.puntagordafireworks.com, Tel: 941-637-5953)

Bion Cantorum's Debut Concert, “Let Freedom Ring!”
The destination’s newest choral group will make its public debut July 4 at 4 p.m. at the Cultural Center of Charlotte County. Bion Cantorum is a choral group dedicated to providing beautiful, exciting music to area residents. Guests to the performance will be treated to songs as "Testament of Freedom" by Randall Thompson, "I Hear American Singing" by Andre J. Thomas, and "Dixie" anrrangement by Norman Luboff. The Windmill Village Dancers and local veterans will make guest performances. Reserved seating is $15 and $14 for Cultural Center Members. (2280 Aaron Street, Port Charlotte,www.theculturalcenter.com, Tel: 941-625-4175).

Military Heritage Museum’s 4th Annual “Party on the Roof”
Enjoy the fireworks from one of the best spots in town, atop the Herald Street Parking Garage in Punta Gorda during the Military Heritage Museum’s 4th Annual “Party on the Roof.” Enjoy a patriotic evening with music and entertainment with Gator DJ, complimentary hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar. Cost is $20 per person and $200 per table. Reservations are required. Parking is free and elevators are available. (www.FreedomIsntFree.org, Tel: 941-575-9002)

PATRIOTIC SPECIALS

‘It’s Time! Kayak & Canoe’ Offering Kayak Rentals for the Freedom Swim
Those interested in being part of the Freedom Swim without swimming can rent a kayak from ‘It’s Time! Kayak & Canoe.’ Single kayak rentals are $30 and tandems are $45. Boats must be reserved in advance and will be waiting for paddlers at the swimming starting point and can be left at Fishermen’s Village. Boaters are responsible for transportation back to the launch site. (www.itstimekayakandcanoe.com, Tel: 941-255-3686, ask for Mike or Audrey)

Fireworks Viewing Cruise with King Fisher Fleet
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 Independence Day sightseeing cruise departing at 7:30 p.m. This special cruise will watch the sunset over Charlotte Harbor then navigate to the mouth of the Peace River to view the fireworks display set for 9 p.m. The cruise will include finger foods from The Village Fish Market, desserts from Simply Sweet, and an open non-alcoholic bar. Passengers are welcome to bring their own beverages in a small cooler.

Cost is $49 plus tax and tickets are available on a first-come first-served basis.  Reservations are recommended. (Fishermen’s Village, 1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.kingfisherfleet.com, Tel: 941-639-0969)

July 4th Sail-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 4, 6, 12 or 24 hours for up to six people. Advance reservations required. (www.smokeandroses.com, Tel: 605-366-7673 or email info@smokeandroses.com)

For additional Fourth of July activities in Charlotte County, visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com.

About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, the area offers a pristine unspoiled beauty.  In 2014 Port Charlotte has been named the top U.S. Best Value Destination by trivago.com, the world’s largest online hotel search site, and the Charlotte Sports Park, spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays, was voted “Best Spring Training Facility” by readers of USA TODAY. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands has been named one of SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” Englewood was named second of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com.  The area is served by five airports: The Punta Gorda Airport (PDG) with private and charter air service, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Southwest Florida International Airport, Ft. Myers, (RSW), St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) and Tampa International Airport (TPA).

For more information on visiting Charlotte Harbor visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com or call1-800-652-6090.

CONTACTS:

Jennifer Huber
Tourism Public Relations Manager
Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau
(941) 743-1900
Jennifer.Huber@CharlotteFL.com

Mary Jane Kolassa / Cindy Dobyns
Above Water Public Relations & Marketing
(407) 463-0040 / (239) 596-9149
MJKolassa@AboveWater.com  / CDobyns@AboveWater.com

Charlotte Harbor Visitor 
& Convention Bureau
18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B104
Port Charlotte, FL 33948
941-743-1900, FAX: 941-764-4932
www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com