Beads no more: Shrimp festival replaces tradition

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FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. – Environmental concerns are bringing a tradition at the Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival to a halt.

Parade goers will no longer see beads thrown into the street after construction crews found them tangled in underground drains at Estero Boulevard. Experts said the beads had accumulated over years and could cause major back up in the drains.

Parade chairman Diana Clifton has arranged a replacement to the beads: candy. She said the change was not made to curb attendee’s enthusiasm, but that candy is a safer alternative to beads because the treats dissolve.

“Hopefully it wont dim the excitement of the parade ’cause I know a lot of people along the parade route like us throwing the beads,” she said.

The Fort Myers Beach Lions Club Shrimp Festival parade is scheduled for March 12. But A spokesperson with Estero Boulevard’s redevelopment agency, Kaye Molnar, said cleaning up the beads from previous years is delaying the completion of construction projects.

“The beads are a maintenance issue and the crews are having to clean them out,” Molnar said. “It’s a matter of them getting into the storm grain and it starts to hurt the environment.”

While some people, like local business owner Nancy Guthrie, expressed their disapointment at seeing the beads go, others said they support the change.

“Anything that we can do to get these construction people off the beach quicker or sooner, I am all for,” a beach realtor, Craig Tupy, said.

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