Punta Gorda is small beachfront town

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The beachfront southwest Florida city where Allegiant Airlines will fly nonstop from Youngstown Warren Regional Airport is a small town that markets their beaches and outdoor activities as attractions.

Allegiant officially announced Tuesday they will begin two non-stop flights per week Oct. 30 from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna to the Punta Gorda, Fla. airport. It’s the fourth non-stop destination to fly out of the airport.

“It’s a quaint town,” Punta Gorda Mayor Bill Albers told WKBN on Tuesday. “The city is 125 years old. It’s a very laid back community. It’s what attracted me here 17 years ago.”

The city is home to about 18,000 and is the only city in Charlotte County, Fla. Albers said about 70 percent of the residents live on beachfront property. About half are retirees with the other half made up of professionals and families, Albers said.

Albers said there were already nine other Allegiant flights that flew into the city. Allegiant is their only airline.

He said the coastal city attracts sailors and fishers because it has the second largest harbor on Florida’s west coast.

“The Charlotte Harbor is second only to Tampa Bay so it’s a huge sailing and fishing community and just boating in general and everything that goes with it,” Albers said. “It is very popular here.”

Albers said the biggest attraction in the city is a pier called Fisherman’s Village that features about 75 shops and a half dozen restaurants. Albers said it’s similar to the famous Pier 39 in San Francisco on a smaller scale.

He said there are 19 miles of bike, walking and running paths.

Albers said the city was ravaged by Hurricane Charlie in 2004 but has since fully recovered. He also said their population consists of a lot of native Ohioans.

“We have a huge population of people from Ohio here,” Albers said. “Typically the west coast has people from the central parts of the U.S. where the east coast of Florida is more New York, New Jersey and so forth. So we have a huge population— many many friends from different places in Ohio.”

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