Today is the 1st day of the 51st annual shrimp festival! The 5K run starts at 9:00 AM, followed by a parade at 10:00, and then down to the square for lots of shrimp, and other culinary delights, arts and crafts, fun and games! And people: thousands and thousands of people, most showing lots of skin as the south florida sun bakes down. The scents are overwhelming: coconut sunblock mixed with body odors, cigars and cigarettes, fried foods, onions, garlic, grilled and broiled meats and fish, and of course, lots and lots of shrimp.
The Matanzas Pass bridge will close to vehicular traffic at 9:00 AM, and Estero Boulevard will be closed from the bridge to Voorhis Street, roughly 2.5 miles, and will remain closed until noon. The parade route starts at School Street and is about 2 miles long. Last year I walked in the parade with the Pilot Club, carrying their front banner along with the incoming president. It was an honor, and it was also an exercise (literally!) in personal strength, as the banner is about 6 ft. x 3 ft., all vinyl and it was an exceptionally windy day: we felt the threat of going airborne at any moment along the two mile route.
Other years I rode in the parade representing the Ft. Myers Beach Film Fest: I was the Director of Operations, and we promoted the festival at every opportunity. We even hired a Marilyn Monroe look alike and Jimmy Grecco agreed to drive his classic 50's something convertible, and "Marilyn" sat on the back and blew kisses and cooed, as we walked along side handing out flyers and promotional material. We even had a booth in the square and took polaroids "Get your pic with Marilyn, and support the Film Festival!"
Even earlier years, the kids'd be in the parade either with the beach school, with local camps or bands. It is a parade of islanders, by islanders and for islanders, and it's a fun fun time. I may have missed one or two over the course of nearly 30 years, but I won't miss today's!
P.S.:!! I just had a thought! If you are reading this between 9:00 AM and 12:00 noon, (Eastern), you can watch the parade! Through the Town's traffic cams! Log on to the Town's website, http://www.fortmyersbeachfl.gov and from the main page, click the button for Traffic Cams (top right). Camera 1 is from Town Hall, pointed south on the boulevard, and will show the approaching parade. Camera 2 is at the Fire Station, and this is where the boulevard closes at the south end. You'll not see the parade, only lots and lots of traffic.
As I write this, I can hear the marching bands already at the school in the staging area! It's so EXCITING!