Heat doesn't stop Independence Day celebrations around Beaufort County

Parade in Bluffton, fireworks on Hilton Head, in Port Royal mark celebration

mmcnab@islandpacket.comJuly 4, 2014 

Looking for relief from the hot sun, Kyle Railey and Alex Straub found it Friday in the waters of Battery Creek.

Railey's father, Kevin, said the boys, 10 and 9, had gone in and out of the water along The Sands beach to escape the day's heat. A year after rain dampened the Fourth of July celebration at the Port Royal beach, temperatures soared into the 90s and remained there, even as sunset approached and the Parris Island Marine Band began to play.

Undeterred by the high heat, hundreds flocked to the beach for the celebration, like first-time attendee Railey and his family. They brought along Straub and their family from Savannah for the festivities, he said.

"There was nothing else going on downtown," the Beaufort resident said. "We were looking for a family-friendly place to go."

Festivities Friday around Beaufort County included a children's parade in the town of Bluffton, a road race on Hilton Head Island, and fireworks displays on the island at Harbour Town, Shelter Cove Harbour and Skull Creek.

At The Sands, Kristie Serra and her extended family --grandparents from Pennsylvania, a sister from Florida, and six children in all -- searched for shark teeth in the mud along the creek.

It was the first Independence Day celebration at The Sands for Serra and her husband, Chris, a Parris Island drill instructor. However, they had visited the beach two times before to look for shark teeth. After coming up empty during the first two trips, they hit paydirt on the Fourth, poetically finding four shark teeth along the beach.

"The kids are having a blast," she said. "We're from Florida, so the heat doesn't bother them."

The Marine Band performed for a crowd of hundreds, as many more began staking out a spot for the fireworks display over Battery Creek. They set up chairs and blankets along the beach and up the road that links it to the rest of Port Royal.

Bluffton residents Tyler and Maria Heinzelman found a spot along the road to watch the fireworks with their son Austin, 3. After spending the last eight years traveling into Savannah for the Fourth of July, they decided to avoid the big crowds there and on Hilton Head Island for a more subdued celebration, the family said.

Melanie Bradham of Burton and her family had a similar tactic, setting up chairs along the road and a blanket for their children to sit on for the fireworks. None of the children were more excited than Bradham's 4-year-old nephew Kade, who was about to see his first fireworks show in Port Royal.

He had had seen fireworks at Walt Disney World in Florida, but he didn't hesitate when asked which ones he thought would be better.

"These," he said with a smile.

Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.

Related content:

In Port Royal, patriotism reigns over the rain, July 4, 2013

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