Winn Dixie parking lot was the place to be on July 4th around 9:00 am to mingle with those involved in this years’ parade.
Participants finished their floats and by 10:00 AM they were all ready for the parade to start. Tom Ruscik, a member of the American Legion and one of the organizers of the event, said “we had so many new participants this year; I think this is one of our largest parades we have had in a long time.”
As in years past the parade began with the Pine Island/Matlacha emergency vehicles followed by the American Legion Post 136 color guard presenting the American Flag carried by Rick Alverez. Residents of the Greater Pine Island and Matlacha area lined the south end of Stringfellow Road starting at the Winn Dixie parking lot all the way to the Elks Lodge Building where the parade ended.
Grand Marshals for this years parade was Phil Buchanan The Lee County Sheriff’s Department had a huge presence in the parade this year, with their marine patrol, swamp buggy, horse patrol and Pine Island’s newest Captain of the LCSO-Gulf District, Matthew Herterick,.
2015 MangoMania Queen, Jonna Bouchard was riding in style this year as she sat atop the nicely decorated red, white and blue float sponsored by the Greater Pine Island Chamber of Commerce and pulled by a Chamber member JMC Landscaping.
The parade took about an hour this year; local organizations to businesses to residents of the island were iincluded. Children with bicycles between the age of 6-13 decorated their bikes and were a part of the parade. It’s fun to see the kids decorate their bikes and be a hug part of the parade. Other floats in the parade were displayed by the Kiwanis Club of Greater Pine Island; the Matlacha Hookers, Red Cross, Calusa Land Trust, CW Fudge Factory, Pine Island Dance, United Methodist Church Youth Group, American Legion, Elks Lodge, and other local businesses all showcased our freedom and presented our flag proudly.
At the end of the parade the Elks Lodge 2781 had a nice cold drink, hot dogs and chips for all the kids. This has turned into a tradition and the Elks Lodge is proud to give each child a free lunch for all their hard work. Keeping the youth involved will help the parade continue for years to come.
Winners of this year 4th of July parade were as follows First Place: Matlacha Hookers, Second Place: American Legion Post 136 and Third Place: Low Key Tiki.
At dusk the American Legion hosted a beautiful display of fireworks. The staff at the American Legion Post 136 wants to thank all who participated in this year’s event and hopes to see them again in 2016.