Hey it's Punta Gorda on the 4th of July -- and what do Punta Gordans do -- jump in the river? Or not. Or maybe float across. Or maybe just watch from the bridge or Fishville as hundreds cross the Peace River in the annual Freedom Swim. The trick I'm told by many oldtimers -- who used to do it -- is to cross the river close to the bridge and then let the tide carry you to Fishermen's. Inaugurated in 1991 by a group of locals, Michael Haymans, Frank Desquin et al, who were emulating a ritual that Frank's father and friends engaged in every year, the Swim has become a 4th of July tradition.
If you go, the swim starts at 11 a.m. on the north side of the southbound U.S. 41 bridge and ends at Harpoon Harry's at Fisherman's Village. Parking is available at the east side of the northbound bridge. Go under the bridge to cross to the starting point. The Green Hibiscus Trolley provides transport between the Village and the starting point between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you prefer to watch, you can do so from the southbound bridge or better still get to Harpoon's early and greet the swimmers as they climb out of the Peace.