A replica of Hilton Head’s favorite (arguably) attraction of 2017 is making a comeback.
The 13,000-pound buoy appeared on South Forest Beach following Tropical Storm Irma in September and Hilton Head quickly fell in love.
But despite local rallies calling for the buoy to stay, it was removed by a local contractor hired by the U.S. Coast Guard in October.
On Friday, the buoy will return — or at least a replica of the buoy will.
SERG Restaurant Group recently commissioned a Florida company to the construct the replica of Buoy 8.
The 700-pound replica was created to scale, Brittany Shane, SERG spokesperson, said Thursday.
“We saw the overwhelming response from our employees,” Shane said. “We saw how everyone responded to it being there — people wanted that to stay. We are trying to bring that iconic symbol back.”
“Buoy 8” was arguably the most talked about photo-op spot in Hilton Head last year. Thousands of locals and tourists flocked to the buoy between September and October for photos and jungle gym play. It was even the the backdrop for a wedding.
For weeks in October, the U.S. Coast Guard promised to remove the buoy, but they ran into several technical issues. One time, a contractor loaded the buoy onto a flat-bed truck before taking it off again and putting it back on the beach because it was too big.
But on Oct. 18, a local contractor finally did the job and transported the Buoy to the U.S. Coast Guard station in Charleston. Before Irma’s powerful waves pushed the giant buoy to shore, it was stationed at the mouth of the Port Royal Sound, according to the Coast Guard’s tracking.
SERG Restaurant Group is calling for a proper celebration for the landmark’s return.
A sort-of parade of the buoy will launch from the Black Marlin restaurant at 3 p.m. Friday. Before it lands, a truck will drive the buoy around the island providing an opportunity for islanders and visitors to take pictures.
The buoy’s final and permanent resting place will be between Skull Creek Boathouse and Skull Creek Dockside. Just like the original buoy, the replica will not be roped off at any time and will remain open to the public for pictures.
“This became a symbol of coming together after the storm,” Shane said. “It is a cool thing and we wanted to have that piece of history.”