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Editorial 608

Missy Layfield - Editor

Support Your Local Pirate Fest!

What a difference a week can make.

Last week, our island community was stunned when the promoters of Pirate Fest backed out of the event 10 days before the event was to begin. Citing "circumstances beyond our control”, they told sponsors, vendors and patrons that "due to obstacles, both new and old” they felt it best to postpone the event.

Scratching our heads as to what went wrong so close to the event, we began to ask questions.

We learned that SIK and Pirates of the Treasure Coast, promoters of Pirate Fest, had submitted their permit application only 3 weeks prior to the event. Experienced promoters tell us that they usually submit permit applications several months in advance of an event, allowing extra time for the unexpected delays that pop up during the process.

So, was bureaucratic red tape at Town Hall to blame?

Nope, we learned that the Town of Fort Myers Beach had bent over backwards to help the promoters get their permit in time. The permit application requires that event organizers notify residents who live within 500 feet of any amplified music early enough that residents have the opportunity to speak to Town Council before the permit is issued. Due to the timing on the permit application, there was only one Council meeting between the application and the event.

The Town made arrangements so that if the promoter got the notification letters out in time, there would be space on the Council agenda to hear from residents and act on the permit application. However the promoters did not send any letters and withdrew the application last week.

That is all history. I recap it only because the promoters spin on this situation includes some dirt throwing toward the very people who have stepped in to fix the problem created by the erstwhile promoters.

While they were playing a little CYA, the people of Fort Myers Beach saw an opportunity.

In a baseball analogy, the bases were loaded, we were down by three, bottom of the 9th with two outs and Islanders were up to bat. Could we save Pirate Fest?

Was it even possible? A weekend event requires weeks of organization & planning. You have to recruit volunteers, plan events and solicit donations. There are vendors to be found, permits to be had and myriad pieces of the puzzle to put together.

Within hours, the answer to all of those questions was a resounding YES!

Islanders stepped forward to take the reins of the effort. The front man of the effort became Steve DeAngelis assisted by countless others. I’d list them, but I know well that this type of effort is always backed by many who wish to remain in the background. Let’s just give credit to the businessmen and women of San Carlos Blvd and Time Square. They’re not doing it for the recognition, but if you want to know who helped with this effort, see page 16. We tried to list all the businesses that stepped up to help. If we missed anyone, please accept our apologies.

Joining them in the batter’s box was the Town of Fort Myers Beach and the Chamber of Commerce, each asking what can we do to help the effort.

A call went out to any interested Islanders who wanted to be involved. One meeting this week brought out 40 Islanders, looking not for what the event could do for their business, but what could they do to make this a great Island event?

I urge all Islanders to come out this weekend and support Pirate Fest! Come out to support your fellow Islanders. Come out because this is going to be fun!

There are events starting on Friday afternoon through the entire day Saturday. Pirate cruises, Pirate ship battles, a Buccaneer Ball Friday and a Mutineer Ball Saturday. The Hot Flashz dancers will make an appearance! There’ll be pirate food and drink specials all along San Carlos Blvd and Time Square. See the full schedule on page 16.

For the kids, there’s a fishing tournament, costume contest, magician and a kids fun area. Make sure your kids check out the mermaid. She’ll be in the fountain or at Time Square.

This week, I heard something even more promising. I heard these Islanders that have been working for days to create a great event for our Island, talk about how they’re going to make it even better next year.

Next year, Pirate Fest will be an island wide event. Just like we’ve recently heard that Sand Sculpting will be an island-wide event.

When it comes to promoting our island, there should be no north or south. There should be genuine effort to include the entire island. That is not always easy given the size and shape of our island. It will take some creativity – some effort on everyone’s part – but it is certainly doable.

This past week has shown us what Islanders can do when faced with a challenge. We are strong together.

Do your part and come out this weekend to enjoy Pirate Fest.

Missy Layfield