Popular boat party’s future is unknown

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LEE COUNTY, Fla.,- Live music, thousands of people and hundreds of boats. A local young professional organization planned on throwing the bash over Labor Day weekend. They’ve held five previous parties, but this one is on hold. That’s because the Coast Guard is now requiring permits and organizers say it’s not fair.

This is video from a previous Sandbar Extravaganza held on Picnic Island, at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee. Organizers planned another party for Labor Day weekend, but the Coast Guard says organizers must submit a marine event permit. The coast guard says its concerned about the safety of all of the people and boaters expected to attend.

“We ran their application past our attorneys and we aren’t required to file an application with them. Their application is specific to regatta’s and parades, neither of which we qualify for,” said Dan Sinclair.

Organizer Dan Sinclair says the barge party is not held in federal waters. He says Picnic Island is overseen by Florida Fish and Wildlife officers. FWC says that’s not the case and the Coast Guard also patrols that area. Sinclair says he has been getting an overwhelming number of calls from the Coast Guard.

“The whole reason they want us to put an application in in my opinion is so they can deny it.”

Sinclair says they have a good working relationship the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Florida Fish and Wildlife who provides manpower for the event.

We offered to have LCSO to coordinate with them like they do the local Coast Guard, they refused. We offered a sit down meeting with them face to face, they refused,” said Sinclair.

Sheriff Mike Scott wrote WINK News saying barge party organizers took necessary safety changes after previous concerns. He says overall the parties have not caused a significant problem. Another reason the party may be off, organizers still need about $8,500 from sponsors to pay for the event.

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