If you were going to be in the procession, Winn-Dixie parking lot was the place to be Friday morning, July 4th around 8 a.m. floats starting lining up bright and early that beautiful but hot morning. Local businesses and organizations were decorating trucks, trailers, bikes, cars, anything they could find, colorful balloons were being inflated and bags of candy, little toys and brightly colored beads were being loaded onto the floats to handout to the kids and parents along the float.
As always at 9:45, you could hear the sound of cannon fire starting of the celebration. The half mile long parade travels north on Stringfellow Road to the intersection (4 way stop) where it turned left to the Elks Lodge. Spectators arrive early each year to stake out their spot along the bike path.
Carol Carter and Susan Oliver from Bokeelia along with Fran Mills from St. James City arrived early and set their chairs up under a nice shade tree. "We've been coming to the parade for many years; it’s a place where you get to see other residents." Carter said.
The Matlacha Pine Island Fire Control District led the parade with sirens blaring and light flashing. Always on duty 10 minutes into the parade, a 911 call came in and two engines were called out to a boat fire which adding even more excitement.
Organizations and businesses from all over the island were part of this year’s event. American Legion Post 136 was the host of the event. Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce’s float celebrates the MangoMania Tropical Fruit Fair kick-off, Matlacha Hookers an organization that is about the youth of Pine Island. New to this year’s parade was CW Fudge Factory in Matlacha, who makes some of the best homemade candies and fudge. From Our Hearts organization helps local residents with Cancer treatment expenses. Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island displayed a colorful red, white and blue float. The Kiwanis raises money at Taste of Pine Island; the funds of which help local graduates with college expenses. Many other businesses and organizations decorated floats and brought the kids dressed in red, white and blue, antique cars, horses and a miniature pony pulling a wagon.
Frank Taugner from the American Legion Post 136 said, "We had our best participation this year; I believe we had the most floats ever with the parade taking almost an hour to travel just a ½ mile. The beauty of our parade is everyone can get involved. You don’t have to be a part of a large corporation, you can have the kids dress up and decorate their bikes and they can be a huge part of our parade. It’s all about our island and families."
After the parade other organizations had luncheons and other specials throughout the island, everywhere you turned someone was offer a 4th of July special for the resident’s. Around 9:30 PM the island residents were presented with a spectacular fireworks show at the American Legion.
Link to 2014 July 4th Parade