PUNTA GORDA/ENGLEWOOD BEACH, Fla. (June 28, 2017) – A patriotic swim, street parties and spectacular fireworks are some of the ways visitors to Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach will be celebrating Independence Day this year. Following is a sampling of activities being offered in this Southwest Florida community for Fourth of July:

Baseball, Hot Dogs and Fireworks Baseball, hot dogs and apple pie have symbolized America for decades and what better way to celebrate the nation’s birth than enjoying a ball game? Catch the Charlotte Stone Crabs Annual Independence Day Celebration at the Charlotte Sports Park on Monday, July 3. Red, White or Blue Ticket packages are available until June 30. The $20 Red Package includes all you can eat Freedom Feast Picnic, reserved level ticket and Stone Crabs hat. Gates open at 4 p.m. and at 4:30 p.m., 100 pounds of candy will be dropped on the outfield for kids 14 and under. Game begins at 6:05 p.m. with the Stone Crabs’ biggest fireworks show of the season lighting up the sky. (Charlotte Sports Park, 2300 El Jobean Rd, Port Charlotte, FL 33948; Tel: (941) 206-HITS, stonecrabsbaseball.com).

Annual Englewood Firecracker Festival and Block Party
The Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary presents the annual Englewood Firecracker Festival and Block Party beginning at 11 a.m. on Dearborn Street. The family-friendly event includes arts and craft vendors, kid’s game area with waterslides and bounce houses, a variety of food vendors and ice-cold beverages. Chicken Street Bingo returns and three bands will perform beginning at noon. The evening ends with a Light Up Lemon Bay Fireworks Display shot from Englewood’s Middle Beach beginning at 9 p.m. Fireworks viewing points include the parks and beaches along Lemon Bay, from the Tom Adams Bridge and north to the Manasota Key Bridge. Patriotic music will be simulcast by WENG 1530 AM and 107.5 FM. Admission is free and donations to support the fireworks display are welcome. (Dearborn Street, Englewood, www.lemonbaysunriserotary.com)

Enjoy Dinner and a Sunset Fireworks Cruise with Captiva Cruises
Captiva Cruises is offering a sunset fireworks cruise with a dinner buffet at Lighthouse Grill at Stump Pass. The cruise departs from Stump Pass Beach State Park at 6 p.m., stops at Lighthouse Grill for a dinner buffet then proceeds on with live entertainment to view the sunset followed by fireworks ($55 per person plus taxes). A private VIP boat option is available ($65 per person plus taxes). Advance reservations strongly recommended as the cruises will mostly likely sell out. ( www.captivacruises.com, Tel: (239) 472-5100)

Charlotte County Community Services Presents Bayshore BBQ Bash
BBQ food vendors, Hawaiian shaved Ice, giant inflated obstacle course, 10ft Uncle Sam, puppets, face painting and more will be featured at this free, family-friendly event at Bayshore Live Oak Park. Live music representing favorites from 60 years of rock and roll will entertain attendees. Afterward, stay to enjoy the fireworks. 6 – 9 p.m. (Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Port Charlotte, CharlotteCountyFL.gov)

26th Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim
Make a splash with the popular Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River. Recognized as one of the country’s quirkiest Fourth of July events, the leisurely swim begins at 11 a.m. on the public beach of the north end of the southbound U.S. 41 Bridge in Charlotte Harbor and ends at Harpoon Harry’s in Fishermen’s Village. Participants are encouraged to arrive a half hour early for special instructions. Transportation will be provided by Green Hibiscus Trolley between Fishermen’s Village and the swim starting point between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sorry, but no kayaks are permitted on the trolley and inflatables must be deflated. Transportation is free and gratuities are appreciated. Many participants will wear red, white and blue attire while floating on neon foam noodles, inner tubes, or paddling either a kayak or standup paddleboard.

Keep in mind, this is not an organized race but a happening. There is no registration required. For more Freedom Swim details, call (941) 661-5622.

Annual 4th of July Celebration at Fishermen’s Village
Fishermen’s Village in Punta Gorda will host its free family-friendly annual 4th of July Celebration which kicks off at 11 a.m. with the Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim. Those not swimming can greet swimmers as they arrive at Harpoon Harry’s. Fishermen’s Village Center Court will host live music noon to 9 p.m. Viewing of the annual fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor begins at 9 p.m. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.fishville.com, Tel: (941) 639-8721)

View Fireworks Over Charlotte Harbor with King Fisher Fleet
King Fisher Fleet, based out of Fishermen’s Village, is celebrating Independence Day with an evening cruise to watch the sunset and fireworks over Charlotte Harbor. The cruise will depart at 7:30 p.m. and following sunset, the boat will navigate to the mouth of the Peace River to be in place for the Laishley Park fireworks display that is set to begin around 9:00 p.m. After the fireworks, the boat will return to the dock at approximately 9:30 p.m. Tickets: $59 plus tax and includes two drink tickets for any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage on board. Available on a first-come first-served basis. The ticket includes 2 drink tickets for any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage on board. Reservations are strongly encouraged as this special cruise will most likely sell out. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.kingfisherfleet.com, Tel: (941) 639-0969)

Fourth Fest at Laishley Park Fourth Fest 2017 at Laishley Park
Punta Gorda celebrates Independence Day with family-friendly festivities all day. Cool off in Water-Mania, a collection of a dozen waterslides; browse a variety of vendors; enjoy food and cold beverages and listen to live music beginning at 3:30 p.m. Presentation of the Flag by the Charlotte High School NJROTC and National Anthem by 12-year-old Bria Guin will begin at 5 p.m. The fireworks display will begin at 9 p.m. over the Peace River. Gates open at 11 a.m. Admission to the festival is $3; kids under 12: free. A wrist band for unlimited daily use of the waterslides and bounce houses is $10. All proceeds go to fund the Punta Gorda Fireworks. (100 Nesbit Street Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, www.puntagordafireworks.com, Tel: 941-637-5953)

View Our National Bird
Peace River Wildlife Center is open Independence Day and invites residents and visitors to see what the center offers and meet the resident bald eagles. Since June 20, 1782, the bald eagle has been the emblem of the United States of America. In addition to viewing the pair of eagles, meet Luna, a rare leucistic screech owl, and see other native Florida wildlife in an intimate, natural setting between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. $5 donation suggested. (Ponce de Leon Park, 3400 Ponce de Leon Parkway, Punta Gorda, www.PeaceRiverWildlifeCenter.org, Tel: (941) 637-3830)

Pay Respects to Those Who Served to Secure Freedom
Open between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. is the Military Heritage Museum, located at Fishermen’s Village. The museum promotes an understanding and respect for the country’s rich military heritage and sacrifices made by veterans. Displayed are military artifacts dating back to the Spanish-American War through today’s current conflicts representing all branches of government. Many of the volunteers who welcome museum visitors are military veterans. (Fishermen’s Village, 1200 West Retta Esplanade, Unit 48, Punta Gorda, www.freedomisntfree.org, Tel: (941) 575-9002)

The Vietnam Wall of Southwest Florida, located in Punta Gorda’s Laishley Park, is a half-scale replica of the original Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. It was dedicated on Nov. 5, 2016, and adheres to the criteria set forth for the design of the original Memorial:

  • Be reflective and contemplative in character
  • Harmonize with its surroundings
  • Contain the names of those who had died in the conflict or who were still missing
  • Make no political statement about the war

The Wall is open daily and is illuminated at night. (100 Nesbit Street Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, www.vietnamwallofsouthwestflorida.org)

For additional events and ideas on how to celebrate the Fourth of July in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach and the Charlotte Harbor Gulf Islands Coast, visit PureFlorida.com/events. Wherever your Independence Day takes you, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach in the Charlotte Harbor Gulf Islands Coast would like to thank all our armed forces for the freedom we celebrate.

Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast, Punta Gorda /Englewood Beach is a charming collection of nine coastal communities surrounding the state’s second largest harbor. Florida’s premier year-round eco-tourism destination, the area offers a pristine unspoiled beauty. In 2014, Port Charlotte was named the top “U.S. Best Value Destination” by Trivago (the world’s largest online hotel search site), and the Charlotte Sports Park, spring training home of the Tampa Bay Rays, was voted “Best Spring Training Facility” by readers of USA TODAY. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, Punta Gorda / Englewood Beach has been named one of SAIL magazine’s “10 Greatest Places to Sail in the United States,” ranked by Golf Digest as “Third Best Place to Live and Play Golf in America,” and rated by MONEY magazine as one of the “Best Places to Live in the South.” Englewood was named second of the Top Ten emerging travel destinations in the U.S. by TripAdvisor.com. The area is served by five airports: The Punta Gorda Airport (PDG) with private and charter air service, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (SRQ), Southwest Florida International Airport, Ft. Myers, (RSW), St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) and Tampa International Airport (TPA). For more information on visiting Punta Gorda / Englewood Beach visit http://PureFlorida.com or call1-800-652-6090.