Florida’s Fort Myers Beach celebrates NYE for first time since Ian hit

Sunday night will be the first time in two years that Fort Myers Beach in South Florida celebrates New Year’s Eve. 

“I’m coming here to Fort Myers Beach for the fireworks, and band and all the people. It’s going to be exciting,” said Suzy Busz said. She has lived on the island for three years. 

The locals aren’t the only ones who are excited. The island’s businesses are excited for the celebrations too. 

Daniel Clarkston runs Mr. Waves Island Bar.

“We are so much looking forward to New Year’s. It’s gonna be the first time we have fireworks back on the beach after COVID-19 and Hurricane Ian,” Clarkson said. 

The party starts early at 4 p.m. with live music at Bayside Park.

While 2024 is the focus of the festivities, people celebrating on the beach are going for another milestone too.

“Just how much it has progressed since the Hurricane. Hurricane Ian took a lot,” Busz added.

But, 15 months later, the feeling of gratitude and resilience is strong.

“We are really fortunate to have resilient crowds, resilient tourism that comes back. I’m super grateful,” Clarkston said.

Over at Yo Taco, a staple on Fort Myers Beach, workers said the holiday crowd means a lot for their business.

“It’s how we operate. It does dip down before spring break but, these holidays, this is a reminder of how it was,” Doug Colby, a manager at Yo Taco, said.

It feels more like how it was, even though some things have changed through all of the ups and downs in 2023.

“The sunsets are still great,” Colby said.

This story was originally published by Ella Rhoades at Scripps News Fort Myers