Representatives from the city of Sanibel and the SanCap Chamber, along with Sanibel Island residents and visitors from more than five hours away, gathered the morning of Friday June 16, to celebrate the official final opening of the city’s beach parks with a ribbon-cutting at Lighthouse Beach Park on the island’s east end.
“The opening of Lighthouse Beach Park is a testament to resiliency, tenacity, and good old-fashioned hard work,” said Mayor Richard Johnson, who had announced the park’s reopening the week prior at the chamber visitor center ribbon-cutting. “Our Public Works Department, led by interim director Scott Krawczuk, has done a wonderful job of getting our final gulf beach park reopened today. Our recovery partnership with Synergy has stabilized the lighthouse until the missing leg can be recast. We celebrated with the United States Coast Guard relighting the Sanibel Light so that we could continue to ‘shine on’ in our island community.”
On Feb. 28, the community had gathered at the park, then still closed but temporarily opened for that morning, to witness the momentous relighting of the light tower. It had lost one of its legs and its historic lighthouse keeper homes as a result of Hurricane Ian storm surge on Sept. 28.
Friday’s reopening brings accessibility to the beach parking lot. The lighthouse base remains fenced off from access, and the park’s popular fishing pier and its parking lot are still closed.
“This is yet another milestone we celebrate today just as we did earlier this month with the official reopening of the Francis P. Bailey Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center,” said Johnson. “The islands are back in business! We welcome guests back to visit our island retailers and eateries while enjoying the shelling, sun, sand, and surf of our award-winning beaches.”
“Islanders and visitors alike have anxiously awaited the moment they could once again pay homage to our beloved lighthouse, which has become such a potent symbol of the islands’ survival and recovery journey,” said John Lai, chamber president and CEO. “We recognize the Lighthouse Beach reopening as a huge boost for our island businesses, as the island’s favorite beach draws more visitors. Even on opening morning, a line of cars down Periwinkle waited to get in.”
ABOUT SANIBEL & CAPTIVA ISLANDS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
SanCap Chamber is dedicated to promoting the prosperity of its members and preserving the quality of life of our community. With more than 460 active Chamber members from both islands and businesses from Lee and Collier counties, the Chamber plays a key role in facilitating communication and cooperation between business, residents, and government to enhance the economic health of the islands. The Francis P. Bailey, Jr., Chamber Visitor Center is located at the entrance to Sanibel Island and has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors each year. VISIT FLORIDA named the visitor center one of 13 official Florida Certified Tourism Information Centers in the state. It provides comprehensive information about things to do, places to visit, and where to stay, shop, and dine. The chamber website sanibel-captiva.org receives more than 1.3 million website visits per year. For more information about the chamber, contact John Lai, president and CEO, at 239-472-2348 or [email protected].