CHARLOTTE HARBOR & THE GULF ISLANDS, Fla. (June 24, 2015) – The annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim, fireworks, and other patriotic festivities are planned for this year’s Independence Day in Charlotte County, Fla. Following is a sampling of activities planned in the Southwest Florida communities of Englewood, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda for Fourth of July.
SATURDAY, JULY 4 FESTIVITIES
24th Annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim
The beloved annual bobblefest, the popular Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim across the Peace River, begins at 10 a.m. The swim begins 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.
This 1.5 mile leisurely swim requires the exercising of common sense (including swimming with a buddy) and courtesy. Many participants will wear red, white and blue attire while floating on neon foam noodles or paddling either a kayak or standup paddleboard. Keep in mind, this is not an organized race but a happening. If you’re not a strong swimmer, consider paddling a kayak.
Reach the public beach either by traversing the shoreline under the two bridges, or from the west side of the U. S. 41 right of way. Walk directly onto the beach without trespassing on the private property between the beach and the former Sea Horse Marina. The Green Hibiscus Trolley will provide transportation between Fishermen’s Village and the Swim starting point beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until 1 p.m. (Call 941-661-5622 for more Freedom Swim details.)
Annual 4th of July Celebration at Fishermen’s Village Waterfront Mall
Fishermen’s Village will host their annual 4th of July Celebration beginning with welcoming Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim participants at 10 a.m. (Call 941-661-5622 for more Freedom Swim details.) The Green Hibiscus Trolley will provide transportation between Fishermen’s Village and the Swim starting point beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing until 1 p.m. Additional activities will include live music by singer and guitarist Michael Hirst from 11 a.m. -2 p.m. near Good ‘Ole Days Coffee Café and shopping and dining with Village Merchants. Harpoon Harry’s will be offering Kids crafts and treats, bathing suit contests and live music with DJ George all day. Viewing of the annual fireworks display over Charlotte Harbor begins at 9:00 p.m. Admission and parking are free. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.fishville.com, Tel: 941-639-8721)
Harpoon Harry’s 4th of July’s Celebration
The terminus for the annual Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim is the “Fat Point Finish Line” at Harpoon Harry’s. To celebrate Independence Day and greet swimmers and their guests, the bar opens at 9 a.m. with a full menu available. Planned are kids crafts, bathing suit contest drink specials and more. DJ George will provide entertainment all day. From 8:30 – 11:30 p.m. the Heart-N-Soul Band takes the stage. Harpoon Harry’s is a popular locale to watch the Fourth of July fireworks display over the Peace River, scheduled for 9 p.m. (1200 W. Retta Esplanade, Punta Gorda, www.harpoonharrys.com, Tel: 941-637-1177)
4th-Fest 2015 at Laishley Park
Water-Mania, featuring a dozen waterslides, is the highlight of this family-friendly Fourth of July event in Laishley Park and produced by Smugglers Event Management. A Kid’s Fun Zone will keep the young ones excited while visitors can browse through displays and vendors, munch on festival food and cool off with ice-cold beverages. Live Music will fill the park beginning at noon. The Boogiemen Rock-n-Soul Revue will take the stage at 6 p.m., an Independence Day tradition, and perform up to the fireworks display over the Peace River. Immediately following the fireworks finale, Nashville recording artist Jack Michael will perform a one-hour concert.
The fireworks display, presented by the famous Santore Brothers of Garden State Fireworks, will begin promptly at 9 p.m. over the Peace River. The spectacular show is anticipated to last 25 minutes.
Gates open at 11 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. Admission is $3 for the fireworks display. A wrist band for unlimited daily use of the waterslides is $10. (100 Nesbit Street Laishley Park, Punta Gorda, www.puntagordafireworks.com, Tel: 941-637-5953)
Englewood Firecracker Festival & Block Party
The Lemon Bay Sunrise Rotary Club hosts the annual Englewood Firecracker Festival and Block Party on Dearborn Street followed by the Light Up Lemon Bay Fireworks Display. Festivities begin at 11 a.m. with a musical lineup including Smoked Mullet, Echo Matrix and the Boca Band. Vendors and local restaurants will serve up all-American fare along with ice-cold beverages to keep festival-goers cool. Over 60 craft vendors will be lining the streets along with the area’s largest muscle car & street rod show, and a kids game area with water slides and bounce houses. Of course, the world famous “Chicken Sheet BINGO” returns.
Fireworks over Lemon Bay are anticipated to begin around 9 p.m. Admission is free and donations for the fireworks display are being accepted. (Dearborn Street, Englewood, www.lemonbaysunriserotary.com)
American as Baseball, Fireworks and Stone Crabs
The Charlotte Stone Crabs take to the field July 4 at 7 p.m. against the Palm Beach Cardinals and are offering special ticket offers for Independence Day. Gates open at 5 p.m. with pre-game music by Gotta Luv It, Southwest Florida’s premiere rock and soul show featuring a six-member band covering the best of ‘50s and ‘60s Motown funk. A 50-50 raffle will be held with proceeds benefitting the Southwest Florida Vietnam Memorial Wall. For $15, fans will receive a Reserved Level ticket and enjoy a 2-hour All-You-Can-Eat Picnic. A $5 Reserved Level Ticket is also available. Both ticket specials must be purchased at the Box Office or over the phone by 5 p.m. on July 1. Ticket offers only available while supplies last. Following the game is a patriotic fireworks display presented by J.J. Taylor Distributing. (www.stonecrabsbaseball.com; Tel: 941-206-4487)
Bayshore BBQ Bash!
Bayshore Live Oak Park will host a free, family-friendly event between 6 and 9 p.m. BBQ vendors, an ice cream truck, hot dogs, Italian ice and fun flair vendors will be on hand. Bring your own food, chairs and blankets and enjoy music by KatRose band. Stay and enjoy fireworks after the event. (No fireworks are allowed in the park. Bayshore Live Oak Park, 23157 Bayshore Road, Charlotte Harbor, Tel: 941-627-1628)
Military Heritage Museum’s Fifth Annual "Party on the Roof"
Enjoy a patriotic evening during the Military Heritage Museum's Fifth Annual "Party on the Roof" atop the Herald Street Parking Garage in Punta Gorda. View the fireworks from one of the best spots in town while enjoying music with a DJ, hearty hors d’oeuvres, and a cash bar. Cost is $20 per person. Reservations are required. Parking is free, tables and chairs are provided and elevators are available. (www.FreedomIsntFree.org, Tel: 941-575-9002)
'It’s Time! Kayak & Canoe' Offering Kayak Rentals for the Freedom Swim
If you’re not a swimmer yet interested in participating in the Freedom Swim, rent a kayak from 'It's Time! Kayak & Canoe.' Single kayak rentals are $35 and tandems are $50. Boats must be reserved in advance and will be waiting for paddlers at the swimming starting point and can be left at Fishermen’s Village. Boaters are responsible for transportation back to the launch site. (www.itstimekayakandcanoe.com, Tel: 941-255-3686, ask for Mike or Audrey)
July 4th Sail-A-Bration with Smoke and Roses Catamaran
Celebrate Independence Day on the water during a sailing charter and enjoy watching the Freedom Swim, sunset and fireworks aboard Smoke and Roses, Southwest Florida’s largest luxurious catamaran. The boat is available for charter for either 4, 6, 12 or 24 hours for up to six people. Advance reservations required. (www.smokeandroses.com, Tel: 605-366-7673)
For additional Fourth of July activities in Charlotte County, visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com.
Download an image of the Charlotte Harbor Freedom Swim at
About Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands
Located halfway between Tampa and Naples on the Southwest Florida Gulf Coast, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands 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 has been named the top U.S. Best Value Destination by trivago.com, 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, Charlotte Harbor & the Gulf Islands 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 Charlotte Harbor visit www.CharlotteHarborTravel.com or call1-800-652-6090.
Jennifer Huber, Tourism Public Relations Manager
Charlotte Harbor Visitor & Convention Bureau