Port Royal, Parris Island soldier on with fireworks shows, despite budget woes

Poor economy or not, Fourth of July shows must go on, local organizers say.

In the face of budgetary belt-tightening and slumping tax revenues, government agencies nationwide have had to cut back on the frills, often making Christmas lights and Fourth of July fireworks victims of the recession.

But for the two groups in northern Beaufort County that host annual fireworks displays -- the town of Port Royal and Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island -- canceling, or even scaling back, on Independence Day eventswasn't an attractive option.

"It's something that we've done every year," said Port Royal Town Manager Van Willis. "The fireworks show is a high priority for us."

As it did last year, Port Royal budgeted $10,000 for its annual fireworks display at The Sands. The money for the show comes from the town's general fund.

Across Battery Creek, officials organizing Parris Island's annual fireworks show -- an event that bringsabout 10,000 people to the 94-year-old base each year -- said they never discussed dialing down this year's show.

"All of the terms that we have with our vendors are set in advance, so we didn't worry too much about the cost," said Paul Smith, spokesman for Marine Corps Community Services. "We just try to put on the best show we can for the Marines and for the community. Our budgets gets approval before we start our operation, and we plan the event within that budget."

Marine Corps Community Services is the central organizer and sponsor of the depot's Fourth of July event. Zambelli Fireworks Internationale of New Castle, Pa., is in the second year of a three-year, $45,000 contract with Marine Corps Community Services to provide the depot's July 4 fireworks.

While fireworks shows north of the Broad River have been spared the ax this year, all three Fourth of July events on Hilton Head Island received slightly less funding from the town this year than inyears past.

For example, the Harbour Town Merchants Association asked for $12,500 from the town's 2-percent sales tax on overnight lodging but received only $7,625. In past years, they've received about $8,000 for Harbour Town's annual fireworks show.

Events at Skull Creek and Shelter Cove suffered similar budgetary cutbacks.

Reporter Daniel Brownstein contributed to this report.