Beaufort flies into frenzy to prepare for homecoming of 'American Idol's' Candice Glover

Gov. Nikki Haley to attend Saturday's events; fans encouraged to meet Glover at airport Friday

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 3, 2013 

The city of Beaufort went into motion almost the moment the world found out Thursday night that Candice Glover had made "American Idol's" Top 3.

Plans for a parade and concert have been discussed for weeks, but nothing was official until the St. Helena Island native made it through.

On Friday, plans began to cement for the 5 p.m. Saturday parade and the concert that will follow at 7 p.m.

Street closures were announced. Tweaks were made to Taste of Beaufort, which also is this weekend. Police and fire departments developed safety plans.

And planners got word that Gov. Nikki Haley is expected to attend.

Haley's office sent notice shortly after 2 p.m. Friday that the governor will participate in the parade and attend the concert.

"Given we've had such a short amount of time to plan this, everything is running smoothly," Mayor Billy Keyserling said. "But I do urge everyone to be very patient and polite. It will work; it will be good; everyone will be happy and it will be a memory that will last in the minds of people."

AIRPORT ARRIVAL

Glover's flight is scheduled to land at 9 p.m. Friday at Signature Flight Support, a private terminal in Savannah. Fans who want to greet Glover should arrive by 8 p.m. and are encouraged to bring signs -- such as the one in Friday's Island Packet and Beaufort Gazette. The terminal is at 1001 Davidson Drive, Suite 150, at the Savannah International Airport. This is not the airport's main terminal. Click on the map at right for directions.

SATURDAY'S EVENTS IN BEAUFORT

There will be a parade for Glover at 5 p.m. Saturday in Beaufort. It will travel from Bladen to Bay to Newcastle to Craven to Church to North streets, which is not the typical route for Beaufort parades. Click on the parade route graphic at right for a map.

There are 12 groups of participants who will be in the parade, said Shana Hirsch, Glover's professor from the Technical College of the Lowcounty. Glover, her family, and Gov. Nikki Haley will be in the parade. Other participants include: member of Glover's church, Church of the Harvest; representatives from the Technical College of the Lowcountry; and employees of Fripp Island Resort, where Glover worked before "Idol."

Glover will perform at a 7 p.m. concert at the corner of Charles and Bay streets. About 10,000 to 20,000 people are expected to attend, which would make Saturday's events larger by far than any other Beaufort has seen.

The performance will also be streamed live on a large screen in the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park, according to a post on Main Street Beaufort USA's Facebook page.

Waterfront Park has a capacity of about 4,700, and city public works director Isiah Small said there are no safety concerns about filling the park to capacity. Only about 36 feet on the edge of the waterfront is on a platform unsupported by dirt, and that section is designed to handle the weight of a crowd with no concerns about buckling.

His crews are working to keep the park and downtown clean and safe despite the massive crowd anticipated.

"Even though this is a large scale event, at the end of the day we have a multi-million dollar asset that we need to protect," he said.

A free shuttle service to downtown Beaufort will run from 2 to 10 p.m. Saturday from two locations: the parking lot at the corner of Boundary and Ribaut roads at the Beaufort County Government Center, 1499 Ribaut Road; and the front parking lot of Beaufort High School, 84 Sea Island Parkway.

Parking will be at a premium and attendees are encouraged to use the shuttles, which will drop off and pick up passengers at the visitor center bus loading area near the corner of Carteret and Craven streets.

STREET CLOSURES

The Charles Street Extension, which leads into the Beaufort Downtown Marina parking lot, will be closed all day for construction of the stage on which Glover will perform at Bay and Charles streets.

Bay Street will close between West and Newcastle streets at 1 p.m., and Charles Street up to Craven Street will close no later than 2:30 p.m., after the car show -- part of Taste of Beaufort -- concludes in the Wells Fargo parking lot, city clerk Ivette Burgess said.

The parade route will be closed starting at 4 p.m.

CHANGES TO TASTE

Taste of Beaufort, which started today and which was to end at 5 p.m. Saturday, will be extended. Many of the food vendors are ordering and preparing extra items for a much larger crowd, Main Street Beaufort, USA, executive director LaNelle Fabian said.

Alcohol sales in Waterfront Park will still stop at 5 p.m., but many of the food vendors will remain open for several more hours.

Businesses and restaurants downtown are also gearing up for a crowd, with several planning extended hours and special, condensed menus for the night.

SAFETY PLANS

The city of Beaufort Police Department, Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department and Beaufort County Sheriff's Office have been working on all week on safety plans, including increased coverage.

Nearly all city officers not scheduled for regular duty are being called in for overtime to staff the concert and parade, Chief Matt Clancy said earlier this week.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Lt. Robin McIntosh said she could not comment on plans for security reasons, but said, "measures are being put into place to ensure a safe event. All local agencies are working in conjunction to support these plans and measures."

Other local agencies are pitching in, including the town of Port Royal, which is lending four officers from 3 to 10 p.m., Chief Alan Beach said. The Lady's Island/St. Helena Fire Department is preparing to help in whatever way necessary, spokesman Lee Levesque said.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources and the Beaufort Water Search & Rescue Squad will provide safety patrols for the Beaufort River. South Carolina Law Enforcement Division provides security for the governor.

FINANCES

While "American Idol" pays to bring Glover to town, the cost of the parade and concert will be shouldered by the community.

To help offset the cost, the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce opened a "Candice Glover Community Celebration Fund." Donations can be made at any First Citizens Bank, the Beaufort Chamber office, any of the three Hobbit Hill Preschools, or at www.paypal.com to hobbithill@embarqmail.com.

As of Friday afternoon, about $1,000 had been donated by private individuals and another $15,000 pledged by businesses and organizations, chamber spokeswoman Jaime Dailey-Vergara said.

Many residents have been coming in off the street with small contributions, Dailey-Vergara said. One woman brought in $200 in cash and said she simply wanted to help make the event the best it could be.

VOLUNTEERS

Volunteer manpower is helping drive Saturday's events and keep costs down.

The Beaufort Water Festival Committee is taking charge of setting up fencing, the stage and other aspects of the events, spokeswoman Stacey Canaday said. About 50 people from the committee are expected to pitch in from 6 a.m. Saturday to midnight Sunday.

Another 200 safety patrol volunteers will be in the crowd during the events, festival program coordinator Brandy Gray said. They will wear distinguishing vests and can help attendees in the case of an emergency.

The Water Festival will also man a concessions booth, probably near the Scott Street Extension, and all proceeds will go to the community fund.

About 50 additional volunteers have offered to help Main Street Beaufort with both Taste of Beaufort and the "American Idol" festivities, Fabian said. Many of the approximately 250 community and military volunteers already committed to help have also offered to work double shifts.

The volunteer help from the Water Festival alone should offset costs by up to $5,000, Gray said.

Any one who wants to pitch in is asked to meet at Waterfront Park at 3 p.m. Saturday.

The Beaufort Gazette and The Island Packet plan full coverage of Glover's homecoming. Check back on beaufortgazette.com for photos, video and stories throughout the weekend -- from Glover's arrival at the airport tonight through the concert tomorrow. Follow reporters Laura Oberle at twitter.com/IPBG_Laura and Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin for live tweets, photos and videos. Reporters will be using the hashtag #CandiceComesHome for their coverage on Twitter.

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