Co-Founder Michael P. Haymans at the 21st Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Across the Peace River, Charlotte Harbor to Punta Gorda, July 4, 2012 The annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim, multiple fireworks displays, a funeral procession to honor our veterans and fallen heroes and live musical entertainment highlight this year’s Independence Day in Charlotte County, Fla. Following is a sampling of activities this Southwest Florida community will offer this Fourth of July: Baseball, Fireworks and Stone Crabs Celebrate all things American July 3 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. 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. (www.stonecrabsbaseball.com; Tel: 941-206-4487) July 4th & Harpoon Harry’s 20th Anniversary Celebration, Thurs., July 4 – Sat., July 6 Right along with the United States of America, Harpoon Harry’s will be celebrating their 20th anniversary over the Independence Day holiday. The celebration lasts all weekend long at this waterside restaurant located at Fishermen’s Village. It’s the terminus for the annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim and festivities begin at Noon on July 4. This is a popular locale to watch the Fourth of July fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor. Enjoy contests, music, beverage specials and family-friendly activities through Saturday, July 6. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.harpoonharrys.com, Tel: 941-637-1177) Redneck Yacht Club Fourth of July Mudding Celebration Fri., July 5 – Sun., July 7 Offering more than 800 acres of camping, trail riding, mudding and entertainment, the Redneck Yacht Club will host what could possibly be Florida’s largest Fourth of July celebration. Enjoy a patriotic weekend of professional truck races featuring 1 ton and under 2.5 ton classes, games, live entertainment, a massive fireworks display Saturday night and of course, plenty of mud. Passes are $55 per person, when purchased online in advance, cash only at the gate. (44570 Bermont Rd (CR 74), Punta Gorda, www.redneckyachtclubmudpark.com, Tel: 239-209-3773; for tickets: 1-888-71-TICKETS) THURSDAY, JULY 4 FESTIVITIES The following events are scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 4, 2013. 4th-Fest 2013, Punta Gorda’s Annual Independence Day Celebration 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 vendors and displays, fun food and cooling off with ice-cold beverages. Local musical favorites, The Boogiemen Rock-n-Soul Revue take the stage at 6 p.m. leading up to the patriotic fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor. Following the fireworks, the band Jack Michael & Drive 31 will give a special performance. 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) 3rd Annual Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Cajun Festival and 4th of July Fireworks As the Cajun say, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" That means “Let the good times roll!” Jambalaya, gumbo, crawfish and Boudan (Cajun sausage) are some of the Cajun flavors chefs will prepare for Englewood’s 3rd Annual Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Cajun Festival on July 4. Hot dogs, hamburgers and pulled pork will be available for those looking to celebrate the American way. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Dearborn Street with a Cajun style funeral procession honoring our veterans and fallen heroes. Musical entertainment begins at noon and carries through the day and evening leading up to the fireworks extravaganza. A kid’s zone includes waterslides, a bounce house, games 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) 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 11 a.m. - 5 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) 22nd Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim Hundreds of swimmers are anticipated to participate in the 22nd Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River. Exercising common sense (including swimming with a buddy) and courtesy are the 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. Remember, this is a happening rather than a race. The Freedom Swim is scheduled to begin at Noon and participants are encouraged to arrive in time for the 11:50 a.m. 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 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. 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) Military Heritage Museum’s 3rd Annual "Party on the Roof" The Military Heritage Museum will hold its annual “Party on the Roof” 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. End the evening by watching Punta Gorda’s explosive fireworks display. Reservations are required. The event begins at 7 p.m. and cost is $20 per person and $200 per table. Parking is free and elevators are available. (ww.FreedomIsntFree.org, Tel: 941-575-9002) Bayshore 4th of July Celebration, Presented by Charlotte County Community Services Pack a picnic and enjoy the spectacular fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor during the Bayshore 4th of July Celebration at Bayshore Live Oak Park. Appropriate for the whole family, the event promises an evening of fun with music by CLIQUE, dance contest and prizes. Food and gift vendors will be on site. The celebration is 7 – 9 p.m. with free admission. (23157 Bayshore Road, Charlotte Harbor, www.CharlotteCountyFL.gov, Tel: 941-627-1628 ext. 101) 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. (ww.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 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, plus tax. 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 four hours and 24 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.