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Annual beach BBQ supports youth baseball, soccer leagues May 19

May 15, 2019

The Beach Bar's annual charity barbecue, Popeyepalooza, takes center stage on the Beach this Sunday.

Popeyepalooza Director Mike "Popeye" Dearden said the event all started as a Memorial Day barbecue, an-end-of-season celebration a decade ago, where 70 people showed up at their house. The radio station, 99X (now 93X), made a shout out three times about the celebration.

"I give 99X credit for naming us," he said. "The rest is local history."

This year, Popeyepalooza X will begin at noon Sunday, May 19, at The Beach Bar, 1688 I St.

"It's an end-of-season celebration to get together for a great cause, have a big beach barbecue together and raise money for the kids," he said.

The event has become a means to raise money for Little League and the youth soccer league.

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"Over $32,000 has been raised for the kids on Fort Myers Beach. We are hoping to beat last year by one dollar and that is our goal every year," Dearden said. "We usually see about 300 to 400 people come through the doors throughout the day."

The event will feature the usual traditional Beach BBQ with such items as chicken and ribs, shrimp and pulled pork, barbecue beans, chips and pasta salad. The meal is $15 a plate.

Popeyepalooza T-shirts and hats will also be for sale for $10 each. Local businesses sponsor the cost of printing both.

"We keep it (the price) low by having all the businesses pay for it and all the money goes for the kids," he said.

There will also be door prizes and raffles, which people do not have to be present to win. Individuals just have to sign their raffle ticket with their name and phone number, so they can be contacted. A Chinese auction will also be held.

"We do the raffles and auctions between the music that we have all day long," Dearden said.

The live auction will take place within the 4 o'clock hour. The items include a DBZ electric guitar; handmade dog house from Local Color; three-day, two-night stay at DiamondHead worth $800; Key West package with round trip tickets for two on the Key West Express and a two-night stay at Four Star Pier House Resort and Spa.

The entertainment includes four bands -- Beach Fuzz, Shawn Russell, Heavy Weather with Josh Rowand the Pitbull of Blues, and Radio Ghost.

"It's a wide range from classic rock to heavy blues," he said. "The bands play for one hour each with raffles and auction in between."

Over the last decade, Dearden said he has enjoyed all of the contacts he has made through the event. Five years ago he received a picture of the soccer goalie wearing a Popeyepalooza shirt, which he said was great.

"Our motto, no greater cause than our children," he said.

The money goes towards both the Fort Myers Beach soccer and baseball leagues to make it easier for parents to get their children into the league. Dearden said it can be pretty difficult to get kids into the league for parents who have two, or three kids, or single parents who have multiple kids.

"That is where we come in," he said.

Popeyepalooza is sponsored by the Florida Helps Foundation.

"We have enjoyed their sponsorship for the last six years," Dearden said.

This is also the second year they are also enjoying a sponsorship from the Fort Myers Miracle. On Aug. 26, Dearden said they will have a table inside the stadium and a spot in their program.

"I will be singing the national anthem. In honor of our 10th anniversary, I will throw out the first pitch," he said.

Those who are attending Popeyepalooza are encouraged to use public transportation to The Beach Bar, due to minimal parking in the area.



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