Michael P. Haymans, One of the Freedom Swim Founders, Speaks to Swimmers in 2010 Got plans to celebrate Independence Day? Don't worry, we have a few ideas for those spending the holiday in Southwest Florida including multiple fireworks displays, a swim across the Peace River, a funeral procession to bury the economy and live musical entertainment highlight this year’s Independence Day in Charlotte County, Fla. Here is a sampling of Fourth of July activities: Annual 4th of July Celebration at Fishermen’s Village Waterfront Mall Fishermen’s Village will host their annual 4th of July Celebration with family-friendly activities from Noon- 4 p.m. and live music 11 a.m. - 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) 4th-Fest 2012, Punta Gorda’s Annual Independence Day Celebration This family-friendly event celebrates America with nonstop entertainment, unique vendors and plenty of fun food and ice-cold beverages. Patriotic patrons will keep cool at Water-Mania in Laishley Park, a collection of 12 giant waterslides. The evening ends with a booming fireworks display. Gates open at 10 a.m. Admission is $3 for the fireworks display and a wrist band for unlimited daily use of the waterslides and bounce houses is $10. (Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, www.puntagordafireworks.com, Tel: 941-637-5953) 21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Hundreds of swimmers are anticipated to participate in the 21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River. Exercising common sense (including swimming with a buddy) and courtesy are the only rules for this leisurely 1.5-mile swim. Many swimmers will show off their patriotic pride by wearing red, white and blue attire while floating on neon foam noodles or paddling standup paddleboards. The Freedom Swim is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and participants are encouraged to arrive no later than 1:30 p.m. Participants will swim from the beach at 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 Green Hibiscus Trolley will be running between Fishermen's Village and the public beach beginning at 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) '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) Harpoon Harry's 20th Anniversary Party The United States of America isn’t the only one celebrating on July 4. Harpoon Harry's at Fishermen's Village is celebrating 20 years this Independence Day with activities including the naming of Mr. and Mrs. Smugglers, a bathing suit contest and live music. Harpoon Harry’s is a popular watering hole following the Freedom Swim. Watch the fireworks display over the water at 9 p.m. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.harpoonharrys.com, Tel: 941-637-1177) 2nd Annual Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Cajun Festival and 4th of July Fireworks "Let the good times roll!" or as the Cajun say, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" Jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish and Boudan are some of the flavors authentic Cajun chefs will prepare for Englewood's 2nd Annual Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Cajun Festival on July 4. Hot dogs and hamburgers will be available for those with milder palates. Family-friendly festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Dearborn Street with a Cajun style funeral procession to bury the bad economy, followed by live entertainment throughout the day and evening leading up to the fireworks extravaganza. A kid’s zone includes waterslides, a bounce house and other fun activities. Fireworks over Lemon Bay are anticipated to begin around 9:05 p.m. Admission is free and donations for the fireworks display are being accepted. (www.lemonbaysunriserotary.com) Charlotte County Community Services Presents Bayshore 4th of July Celebration Bring the family for an evening of free music and dancing while enjoying the beautiful views of Charlotte Harbor and the Punta Gorda fireworks display by 4th Fest 2012. Dance to the music by Top Hat Entertainment and bring along your own picnic. Or, food vendors will be on site as well as gift vendors. The event is 7 to 9 p.m. (Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Charlotte Harbor, www.CharlotteCountyFL.com Tel: 941-627-1628) Celebrate America with the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra Join the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra featuring Scott Lavender conducting and soloist Michelle Amato for a patriotic evening at the Charlotte Harbor Event & Conference Center on July 4. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. for a 6 p.m. performance. $45 for per adult and $15 for students younger than 18. (75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda, www.charlottesymphony.com, Tel: 941-205-9743) American as Apple Pie, Baseball and Fireworks Celebrate all things American July 4 when the Charlotte Stone Crabs take to the field at 6:30 p.m. against the Fort Myers Miracle. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. Take advantage of the day’s special package which includes a game ticket, hot dog and soft drink voucher for $13 when purchased in advance. In addition to thrilling baseball, the evening includes an apple pie eating contest, bobbing for apples and a hula hoop challenge. The season’s largest fireworks display immediately follows the game. (www.stonecrabsbaseball.com; Tel: 941-206-4487) Military Heritage Museum's 2nd Annual "Party on the Roof" Friends and members of the Military Heritage Museum will meet at the top of the Herald Street Parking Garage on July 4 for a patriotic evening of music with radio personality the Golden Hippo, cash bar and hearty hors d’oeuvres. Cap off the evening by watching Punta Gorda’s explosive fireworks display. The event begins at 7 p.m. and cost is $15 per person, $25 per couple and $150 per table. Parking is free. (www.FreedomIsntFree.org, Tel: 941-575-9002) PATRIOTIC SPECIALS 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 July 4. Departure 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, www.kingfisherfleet.com, Tel: 941-639-0969) For additional Fourth of July activities in Charlotte County, visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com. How will you celebrate Independence Day?
About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Florida's premier year-round eco-tourism destination, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands is known for its pristine, unspoiled beauty. The area has hosted seven major feature films, been featured on SAIL magazine's list of the "10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States," ranked by Golf Digest as the "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." For information about area events, activities and attractions, contact the Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf Islands Visitor and Convention Bureau, 18500 Murdock Circle, Suite B-104, Port Charlotte, FL; 941-743-1900, or call toll free at 1-800-652-6090 for a free Visitor's Guide; or visit the Web site at CharlotteHarborTravel.com.