Consider what the Fourth of July means to most people. Some will say it's a celebration of America's independence. Others may offer it's a day to be spent with family and friends, attending a parade or a picnic. And, of course, watching fireworks light up the evening sky, with the sounds of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" playing in the background.
However, watching fireworks explode in the skies above Sanibel may not happen this year.
During last week's City Council meeting, Jim Jennings noted to the audience in attendance that the city — due to strict budget cuts — will again not be footing the bill for the annual fireworks display. Last year, after the city announced it did not have the funds to support a fireworks display on July 4th, an independent business stepped in and sponsored the approximate $13,000 cost for the explosive showcase.
Thus far, nobody has stepped forward to cover this year's fireworks display. So as of this moment, there will be no bursts of red, white and blue above the Sanibel Causeway come this Independence Day.
However, Jennings' statement has been met with great interest of several patriotic islanders. In last week's Island Reporter, resident Claudia Burns wrote a letter to the editor championing the cause to save Sanibel's fireworks display.
"Fireworks on the Fourth of July – as American as mom and apple pie. Right? And Sanibel is the epitome of small town America, with a parade and fireworks on Independence Day," she wrote, calling for our readers to "get the word out to anyone you know who might be willing and able to cover the expenses."
And then earlier this week, Sharon Michie, owner of Cottages To Castles, sent out an e-mail to every member of the Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, urging the support of local businesses in an effort to stage a fireworks display here on Sanibel.
According to Michie, she has obtained a commitment from Zambelli Fireworks to provide a Fourth of July fireworks show off of the causeway. She also stated that Zambelli has agreed to waive the 50 percent down payment and reduced the cost to $10,000 to put on a show for islanders.
We wholeheartedly support the idea of "passing the hat," as it were, in order to not only save the island's traditional fireworks display, but to support the notion of keeping islanders right here on Independence Day, rather than seeking their fireworks appetite elsewhere. Even a couple of bucks will help and, given the state of the economy, that may be all some folks can afford. Local business owners and restauranteurs count on the holiday to generate additional revenue during the summer "off-season," so having patriotic revelers dine in our eateries and shop in our stores is as American as the stars and stripes themselves.
To make a contribution, stop by Bank of the Islands. An account, called "Friends of the July 4 Fireworks," has been established. You can also contact any member of the San-Cap Kiwanis Club, Sanibel & Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Richard Johnson at Bailey's General Store or Cottages To Castles.
In the 72 hours since Michie sent out her e-mail, more than half of the goal — $6.850 — has been raised, nearly ensuring that fireworks over Sanibel will remain a part of our Fourth of July traditions. It just goes to show that when we work together for the common good, like America's founding fathers did back in 1776, we can accomplish nearly anything.
— Reporter editorial