Michael Haymans and the Freedom Swim crew say they are doing the right thing by canceling the public swim this year. It will end a 29-year tradition of swimming from shore to shore across the Peace River in Charlotte Harbor.

“It is important to send the right message and that is that the public is not invited this year,” Haymans said. “We do not want to endanger people there for the safety of others. Even if you can manage to keep your distance, there would still be people being put at risk. It is just the responsible thing to do.”

Haymans said he has alerted the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, Harpoon Harry’s and Fishermen’s Village about the cancellation.

It’s a shame, but it is necessary.

The swim began in 1991 when Haymans and 12 close friends swam the river as a salute to freedom. A local reporter saw them climb out of the water at the old Howard Johnson’s motel and wrote about it. From then on it became a big deal — drawing probably 200 to 300 swimmers, kayakers and others the last few years.

While I think back to memories of writing about past swims, my mind began to wonder and I came up with some questions. So, if you’ll pardon me for asking:

• Are you surprised Bruce Laishley and Rick Treworgy want to build another restaurant? And right across the street from Sunseeker in Charlotte Harbor. I guess it’s all about location. The old Harbour Inn site on Melbourne might be the best, maybe only, waterfront location remaining in Charlotte County that can accommodate such a project (possible hotel, too). Well, Bruce and Rick know how to invest. All you have to do is look at their assets, especially compared to mine. They know what they’re doing and they love Charlotte County. And, they will do it right if they get the opportunity.

• Have you heard that some South Florida (think Miami) restaurants are adding a COVID-19 service charge to the check? It’s true. Some fees average around 10% or more from what I’ve seen. Hope that idea doesn’t catch on here.

• Is it true the old Applebees on Tamiami Trail in Murdock will become a car wash? Seems a waste to tear down a nice building like that.

• Little late on this but have you heard Connie Ritchhart, senior vice president of residential lending at Charlotte State Bank & Trust, is celebrating her 25th anniversary with the bank? Connie has been involved in residential lending in Charlotte County since 1977 and has helped thousands of people obtain mortgage financing over the years.

• How’s Charlotte County’s new parking plan for the beaches working out for you? We’ve had some complaints called in to the Sun, along with some letters to the editor. I was driving around last week and thought I’d run out to the beach before remembering I don’t have a smart phone. I was out of luck.

• Do you know you can buy a Trump hat at the 7-Eleven stores (at least some of them). I wonder if they’ll be making any Biden hats soon?

• And finally, if you had any doubt, it’s official, according to WalletHub, that only four states in the nation have a lower overall tax burden than Florida. No wonder so many are moving here.


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