Heat doesn't cool Lowcountry holiday celebrations

tbarton@islandpacket.comJuly 4, 2012 

Extreme heat and dry conditions broiled much of the nation Wednesday, stifling Fourth of July celebrations from the Midwest to the Atlantic Coast and prompting dozens of cities to cancel fireworks shows.

Not Beaufort County.

Sweltering temperatures couldn't deter Aimee and Bubba Taylor of Lemon Island and their friends from joining hundreds at The Sands in Port Royal for food, family and some old-fashioned patriotic togetherness.

Clad in a star-spangled bikini, Aimee Taylor flipped burgers from the bed of her pickup truck as a stream of people passed on red, white and blue bedecked bicycles, pulling small wagons and carrying lawn chairs in search of the best seat in the house.

"It's hot, but not hot enough to pass up an opportunity to have some fun, relax, enjoy ourselves and join the rest of the community in celebrating our patriotic spirit," she said.

Ditto for the thousands who flocked to Parris Island for the Independence Day celebration and fireworks show at the Marine Corps recruit depot.

"It's nice to take a day to reflect on what it is I'm fighting for and why I serve," said Cpl. Dan Chouinard, who is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Temperatures in the upper 90s and high humidity combined to create heat indices above 100 for most of the county.

Organizers, though, were prepared with bottled water, fans and hoses to cool off overheated spectators. Medics from the Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department were also on hand. No one, though, required treatment for heat-related illnesses at the Town of Port Royal Fourth of July celebration, according to the fire department.

On Hilton Head Island, beachgoers wearing patriotic garb waved American flags in salute during a low-altitude, fly-over of the South Carolina coast by five "Flying Tigers" F-16s from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base.

"To me, there's nothing better than watching those boys fly," said Greg Kruse of Bluffton. "It's the one day of the year where everyone gets together and supports their country. It's great."

Kruse's 22-year-old son serves in the Navy on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman, he said.

"It's a time to be thankful for our freedom, which we take for granted," said Kruse's wife Robyn. "They're putting their lives on the line for us and it's easy to forget about them."

Independence Day celebrations also took place with fireworks displays at Harbour Town, Shelter Cove Harbour and Skull Creek on Hilton Head.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead

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