In Port Royal, patriotism reigns over the rain

tbarton@islandpacket.comJuly 4, 2013 

The Marine Corps Band plays Thursday night at The Sands beach in Port Royal.

TOM BARTON

And the band played on.

Soaking rain couldn't prevent 2013 Beaufort High School graduate Madeline Anderson and her friends from enjoying the patriotic marches of John Philip Sousa, as played by the Parris Island Marine Corps Band.

"Semper fi!" Anderson yelled as she and four friends huddled beneath her jacket as the band played while rain clouds doused thousands during the town of Port Royal's Independence Day celebration at The Sands beach.

"It's just a little rain," shrugged fellow grad Reagan Palmer. "It's still totally worth it. The band is the reason we came. They do an amazing job," adding there is nothing quite like a Marine band to stokes one's patriotic fires.

Fortunately, the rain stopped in time for the fireworks finale, but only about 2,000 people were around to see it -- far fewer than the 3,000 the display typically attracts.

Organizers were bracing for the largest Independence Day celebration the town had ever thrown since Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island canceled its celebration because of federal budget cuts. That made Port Royal's the only official public fireworks show in northern Beaufort County.

Police doubled security patrols in anticipation of a larger crowd, with between 20 and 30 police officers from Port Royal, the city of Beaufort and Parris Island serving in varying capacities, ranging from bike patrol to traffic control.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources also had three safety boats in the water.

Nearly 3,000 had assembled at the beach around 7:30 p.m. to listen to the band. The rain drove a third to a quarter of the crowd away.

"The Marine Corps stood up to this (the rain) and did a great job, and so will we. There will be fireworks," vowed town councilman Joe Lee. "Hey man, we can't control the weather, but we can still put on a good display."

Soaked and shivering slightly, Calli Melvin and fiancè Corey Carter of North Augusta shared an intimate kiss under the shimmer of a fireworks chandelier.

"It was worth it," Melvin said after braving the rain. "But I would like to see a smiley face (firework). That would be a nice touch."

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/IPBG_Tom

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320 students graduate Beaufort High School: June 1, 2013

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