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Visitors find Fourth traditions in Boca Grande

July 5, 2024
By Evan Dunbar

As freedom’s ringing dissipated throughout Boca Grande following yesterday’s Fourth of July holiday, many people expressed their favorite traditions concerning America’s 248th.

The Dennis family, pictured above, was visiting from Cochran, Ga., an agricultural town 45 minutes south of Macon. “We usually end up in Boca Grande around the Fourth of July,” said a member of the family, who were enjoying ice cream on the bench outside the Pink Pony on Friday afternoon. They said that change for the family of five in scenery and festive events around the island served to strengthen their family bonds.

This year, there were around 170 golf carts in the annual Boca Grande Golf Cart Parade on Thursday morning, an informal record. Spectators lined the parade route, which meandered all the way from Scarpa’s Coastal, south to Miller’s and back up to The Gasparilla Inn, before ending up downtown again. The island firework show itself began that evening at 9 p.m. When the main show ended, many began lighting their own.

While the cart decorations and American flags remained across Boca Grande on Friday the Fifth, the populace had diminished, leaving behind only those strong enough to get a good night’s sleep through the collective firework showing which seemed to last all night. 

The Fourth’s sunny, 99-degree day stood as a reflection of the unwavering and energetic patriotism that was on display in Boca, while the Friday’s rainy, overcast demeanor served to portray the return to the tranquility of the island this time of year. 

Antonio Romero, working here on Friday. A native of Venezuela, he nevertheless appreciates hot dogs and hamburgers on the Fourth.

Antonio Romero, a landscaper just leaving Hudson’s Grocery with a drink and meal on Friday, had a very typical American Fourth, but was back at work Friday. Antonio, who moved from Venezuela to Florida for work, celebrated his Fourth by grilling up some of America’s favorite ballgame snacks: hotdogs and hamburgers. He said that “relaxing with my family” is high up on his annual Fourth of July agenda, as it was this year.

Mike Friedler, who likes visiting small towns like Boca Grande, waits outside Fugate’s Patio Shoppe. His wife is inside.

Tampa resident Mike Friedler was day tripping in Boca Grande on Friday. He came to town because one of his hobbies is spending his time “finding hidden towns like this.” He apparently found it, as Mike and his wife were thankful for the lack of foot traffic on Park Avenue, where they enjoyed post-July Fourth shopping. For the Fourth, they had taken a “nighttime star gazing” cruise, a tradition they have made in Tampa Bay each year. Like Romero, Friedler has a love for the American hot dog.

Whether traditions similar or not, it seems the consensus mood around the island is tired but grateful as those around the island are seen taking it easy and enjoying their freedoms in the land of the free, and the home of the brave. 

Among a group relaxing at brunch at the Key Lime Bistro was Maddie Johnson from Houston, Texas. Maddie and her three friends enjoy many Fourth of July traditions, one of which always includes an annual voyage to Boca Grande. Maddie and her friends like to keep the traditions classic. Maddie was proud of the after-party entertainment she her friends were able to put on.

“The fireworks on 13th Street,” said Johnson. “That was us.”