Red, White & BOOM has been dropped from the Chamber of Commerce of Cape Coral calendar for 2014 due to a lack of securing a title sponsor.
The city's annual Fourth of July fireworks patriotic celebration drew in excess of 20,000 people every year to the shores of the Caloosahatchee River at the Cape Coral Bridge. RE/MAX Realty Team has been the title sponsor for the past four years, but informed the chamber in August that it would end its sponsorship.
"We've been beating the bushes ever since to find someone else to make a three-year commitment," said Chamber President and CEO Mike Quaintance. "Trouble is, Cape Coral doesn't have that many large businesses and it is a significant commitment of $50,000 a year.
"Red, White & BOOM was one of the city's greatest events every year, but the reality is we can continue the tradition only when the business community is willing to support it with their time, treasure and talent," said Quaintance. "All three components are necessary when organizing these large extravaganzas."
Quaintance, however, did not rule out reinstating the celebration if a title sponsor comes forward within a month.
"If someone steps forward in that time I think we can swing it," said Quaintance. "I've turned over every rock I know, but would do it in a heartbeat."
The reason the chamber is making the announcement now is the board of directors is assembling its annual business plan that contains many events and activities for its membership for 2014.
With the Fourth of July event off its plate, the chamber is focusing on the needs of its membership by planning advocacy, education and business development events. Quaintance said plans are in the works for an advanced leadership class through Keiser University as well as seminars on customer service, marketing and networking.
"Not having Red, White & BOOM will have an economic impact on the downtown businesses," said Quaintance. "People are usually looking to cool off, so they go into the restaurants, bars and stores. I'm sure those folks will be unhappy about it. It would be a big disappointment for the community not to have the fireworks. I suppose people would go to other fireworks displays around."
Word of the cancellation had not yet reached the City Council members Tuesday afternoon. While the city has been a participant in the celebration with the chamber, Councilmember Lenny Nesta does not think city staff would be in apposition to take on the job.
"It's a huge event for Cape Coral," said Nesta. "I have faith, though, that someone will step up. It's a big boost in recognition for the name of the title sponsor."
"It is very volunteer intensive," added Quaintance. "We line up 150 to 200 volunteers to make this event what it has become. It is significantly labor intensive and manpower would be a problem for the city."
The chamber has a number of events that the general public can participate in throughout the year. Those include the Holiday Festival of Lights, which was celebrated downtown over the weekend, a golf tournament, pub crawl, farmer's markets and candidate forums.