Beaufort News

Port Royal prepares for larger July 4 celebration after Parris Island festivities canceled

FILE: Heather and Erik Youmans of Brooklet, Ga., watch as son Parker, 8, picks out fireworks at Papa Joe's Fireworks in Hardeeville.
FILE: Heather and Erik Youmans of Brooklet, Ga., watch as son Parker, 8, picks out fireworks at Papa Joe's Fireworks in Hardeeville. Staff photo

No one knows what to expect this July 4 at The Sands beach in the town of Port Royal.

But organizers are bracing for what might become the largest Independence Day celebration the town has ever thrown.

The town has long conducted an annual celebration and fireworks display that typically attracts about 3,000 people. However, with the Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island celebration canceled because of federal budget cuts, it is now the only official public fireworks show in northern Beaufort County.

And the crowd could be much larger this year.

"That's the frustrating thing," Historic Port Royal Foundation president Phil Alling said. "We don't know how much bigger. This is uncharted territory, so we're gearing up for more people, but we don't know how many more."

The Parris Island Marine Corps Band will play during the town's celebration, which Alling said the base offered of its own accord.

Police Lt. J.H. Griffith said police will increase security patrols in anticipation of a larger crowd. Between 20 and 30 police officers from Port Royal, the city of Beaufort and Parris Island will serve in various capacities, ranging from bike patrol to traffic control, he said. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources will have three safety boats on the water as well.

Some rules -- such as no coolers -- are the same as in years past. Others -- such as no pets allowed -- have been added.

"With the crowd being as big as it might be, we don't want a situation with a pet snapped (from the heat) and someone getting hurt," Griffith said.

Attendees are asked to park in designated areas or right-of-ways, and cars in yards or blocking driveways will be towed. Cars will not be allowed to park on either the Parris Island Bridge or the J.E. McTeer Bridge. Golf carts must leave The Sands by 7:30 p.m.

Cars with handicapped placards will be allowed to park in the gravel lot by The Sands, but Griffith said they will not be allowed to leave after the fireworks until all the pedestrians have departed.

"We're just asking people to be safe and have common sense, because the parking is going to be little to none and the traffic is going to be slow," he said.

Town manager Van Willis said the Wardle Family YMCA has agreed to provide a shuttle bus and driver. The bus route was not complete as of Friday.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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