What are you doing for New Years?

Since many of our Marco Escapes guests and readers of this blog are not familiar with the laws and regulations on Marco Island, we are sharing this alert from the City of Marco Island.

In Florida, the only legal fireworks for use by consumers, who don’t possess a special permit, are firework devices known as Sparklers, Fountains, Snakes and Glow Worms.

Illegal fireworks include Roman Candles, Bottle Rockets and any other fireworks that act as projectiles. If you use illegal fireworks in your backyard, in your driveway or on the beach, you are breaking the law.

Stores and the holiday tent sales locations that sell fireworks other than the consumer-legal devices exploit a loophole that allows them to sell fireworks for “other uses”. Some stores or tent sales locations will have you sign a waiver when you buy the illegal fireworks. This waiver protects the store; not you.

In Florida, possession or use of illegal fireworks is classified as a misdemeanor. You can be arrested and if found guilty, be fined up to $1,000 and sentenced to one year in prison. Why? Experience shows that the illegal use of fireworks commonly causes bodily injuries and fires to structures. Environmentally, they cause brush fires and disruptions to wildlife, such as nesting birds.

Fireworks may be festive, but they are illegal on Marco Island and the light, noise and explosion bodes bad tidings on our local wildlife.

A local example of cause and effect of illegally launched fireworks was last New Year’s Eve when the nesting Bald Eagles left their nest in the Marco Eagle Sanctuary due to the fireworks launched by a nearby resident. Consequently, the eggs in the nest died. The Bald Eagles returned, but no chicks were produced last season.

Another type of celebration is sky lanterns, small hot air “balloons” typically made of paper or other material with an opening in the bottom to suspend a flame so it will float upwards. Due to the high potential of trash, wildlife impacts and fire hazards they create, many countries and states have banned them altogether.

Please be aware that sky lanterns are prohibited, as well as balloons or similar products that are released off the beach and over the Gulf of Mexico. Under the City code, a citation for $100 may be issued for the first offense and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Let’s keep trash out of the Gulf and off our beaches – please keep our wildlife safe, our beach beautiful and the Gulf of Mexico healthy.