Red, White & Boom event chair Brett Bisbe had one word for this year's bigger-better Boom:
"Awesome," he said Thursday.
Red, White & Boom, the Cape's annual Fourth of July street fest held Wednesday at the foot of the Cape Coral Bridge, drew an estimated 20,000-25,000 people, nudging previous attendance figures and keeping pace with an event Bisbe said was up all the way around.
Red White & Boom attracted what organizers say was a record crowd of 20,000-25,000 festival goers.
"Everything was up this year - our vendors, our sponsors, our fireworks, our attendance," Bisbe said. "The VIP area had more people than ever."
Coordinated by the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral and the city of Cape Coral, and title sponsored once again by RE/MAX Realty Team, Boom brought back its perennial crowd-pleasing favorites - vendors by the score offering food and drink, kids activity area, a live country concert this year featuring Jaida Dreyer and James Wesley and, of course, the primary draw - the biggest, best fireworks display in Southwest Florida.
"Everyone comes down for the fireworks show," Bisbe said.
Attendees confirmed that premise.
"Fireworks," said Teresa Webster of Cape Coral when asked why she came out.
"Fireworks, said Kevin Brickley of Fort Myers in answer to the same question as the two sat in a shaded area of the VIP section, enjoying the live entertainment.
In addition to great seating for the anticipated fireworks display, VIP ticket holders enjoyed an abundance of All American Fourth fare, including burgers, dogs, mini pulled pork sliders, ribs - and some not-so-traditional deliciousness.
Cooks Jeff Pagliccia and Rochelle Kreller from Marker 92 at The Resort at Marina Village dished up blackened scallops and coconut risotto cakes with a keefer lime butter sauce and fried plantains along with ahi tuna shooters replete with seaweed salad, avocado and black caviar.
Their offerings disappeared quickly as Pagliccia worked a pair of saute pans and Kreller moved effortlessly at dual tasks - adding sauce and patties to plates awaiting a sizeable and sizzling scallop, and lining up shot glasses graced with gleaming dots of caviar to the constantly dwindling supply.
"It's going very well," said Pagliccia as he dusted another bin of shellfish with seasoning just shy of 6 p.m. "We're having fun. We expected to serve over 400, and we're three-quarters of the way there."
Seated among the crowd were new parents Denae Koder and Brady Logan, grandma Elizabeth Koder-Huerta, a Realtor with RE/MAX, and little Payton Logan, 4 months, who was celebrating her first Fourth beribboned with a red, white and blue headband and holiday bib.
"We love it," said Denae Koder, who was enjoying a plate of food while a wide-eyed Payton took in the festivities in dad's arms.
Outside, seated beneath a pair of sun umbrellas, newly arrived Cape residents Marsha and Eddie Malonado, and son Andrew Faulkenburg, 9, were having a good time as well.
"It's pretty exciting," Marsha Malonado said. "It's a big change. We just moved from Englewood, there's a lot more people. So far, it's pretty cool, a lot of nice people, and the weather is holding out. It's really awesome."
"We're having a blast," Andrew added.
Alisa Gonzalez, there with twins Sara and Marco, 6, was also a first-time attendee.
"We're having a great time," she said as Sara enjoyed a lime-green Italian ice from one of the dozens of food and drink vendors lining Cape Coral Parkway east of Del Prado Boulevard.
The holiday street party, one of the Cape's most well-attended events, is made possible through a cooperative effort between the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral and business sponsors, and the city of Cape Coral.
For the third year running, the title sponsor was RE/MAX Realty Team.
"Oh, it's fantastic," said broker-owner Yoslyn Hollow of the attendance, still picking up quickly as the sun set. "It's probably better than we've seen it. We're really excited to be part of such a big event."
In addition to its community contribution as the major sponsor of the free festival, Red, White & Boom also allows the office to donate to the Children's Miracle Network. This year, the chamber and RE/MAX Realty Team combined their VIP areas. Net proceeds from RE/Max's efforts will go to the organization that raises funds for 170 children's hospitals throughout the country.
It's part of any on-going effort, Hollow added.
"Our office is fortunate to be a Miracle office," she said. "That means that from every closing, a donation goes to the Miracle Network."
Other sponsors included Roger Dean Chevrolet, BJ's Wholesale Club, Entech Computer Services, Kiwanis, Budweiser, Caloosa Tent & Rental, Fort Myers Harley-Davidson, CenturyLink, Cat Country 107.1, Comcast, the South Cape Community Redevelopment Agency, Lamar, WINK News, the News-Press and Breeze Newspapers, as well as The Boat House of Cape Coral, Suncoast Portable Sanitation, Sea Tow, Highway Technologies, Brent's Music and Sound, Marker 92 Waterfront Bistro, Perkins Family Restaurant, First Round Draft and The Joint.