Support Independence celebration

By Steve Estes

The Big Pine and Lower Keys Rotary Club, in conjunction with the Lower Keys Chamber of Commerce and Big Pine Volunteer Fire Department,  is moving the annual Independence Day celebration to Big Pine Key this year.

The July 4 celebration and fireworks will be staged this year at the Big Pine Community Park.

We welcome everyone to enjoy the new venue with us. And hope you’ll join us in thanking Monroe County for allowing us to use this venue for a community event.

The move doesn’t come without its challenges.

Due to state fire codes, the actual fireworks show will be launched from a sea-borne barge. The barges, courtesy of John Coffin Marine, will be anchored just under 1,000 feet off the east shoreline of the park, so the show will go off seemingly right overhead.

We thank the staff and inmates of the Big Pine Road Prison for agreeing to let the crews there help us with set-up and tear-down of the event.

We thank in advance the vendors who have and will agree to come out and be a part of this newly placed venture, and most of all we thank the community for their continuing interest in the show.

But we will have to ask the people who live in Sands Subdivision, commonly referred to as The Avenues, to bear with us for one night because we intend to take over your neighborhood for parking for the patrons of the show.

The crowd that frequents this event is usually upwards of 2,500. We expect that many and more as long as the weather cooperates. That’s a lot of vehicles that we have to put somewhere.

We thank the businesses along the access road who have graciously agreed to allow event participants to park in their lots. There will be a shuttle running a route from the park entrance down Hibiscus, up Sands, across Avenue A and back down County Road to provide transportation. The shuttle will be free and first-come, first-served, so come early.

For those who wish to park closer, we ask that you enter via County Road if possible, and park so that your vehicles are facing in the proper direction to exit the area via Sands Road. The last thing we want  is to clog up the streets in the The Avenues for longer than we have to for the greatest show in the Lower Keys.

There will be parking attendants scattered throughout the area to aid you in finding a spot. Work with them. They want the show to be successful as much as we do.

Monroe County built this community an incredible waterfront park a few years back. This is a chance for the community to take advantage of that facility in a community event that is well attended every year.

It’s a family show. Bring the kids. Bring the friends of the kids. Leave the pets at home. Leave the coolers at home.

Everything you’ll need to enjoy the show will be right there in the park.

There will be vendors for food. There will be vendors for drinks, both kid and adult. There will be vendors selling souvenirs and memorabilia of the event. There will be games and events for the kids.

There’s a softball field. Use it if you wish. There are bocce courts. Use them if you wish. There are basketball courts. Use them if you wish. There are gazebos. They may be taken. Get there early if you want to use one.

We are excited about the move to the community park on Big Pine for this event. There’s a lot of room, it’s easily accessible to everyone in the Lower Keys, and it provides a beautiful waterfront venue from which to watch the fireworks show and celebrate the anniversary of our nation’s independence.

There are way too many to thank every year for the success of this event, so we won’t try here yet, but know that we appreciate each one of you.

If you want a vendor space, call us at the News-Barometer office or Centennial Bank. If you want to volunteer, call Danny Coll at 305-872-1111 or us at the News-Barometer office.

If you want to donate a little to the cause (we can use it) go see the good folks at First State Bank. They’ll lead you down the right path.

But most of all, come out and enjoy the show, kibbitz with neighbors and friends and help us celebrate our nation’s Independence Day in style.

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