David Lauderdale

Hilton Head the younger, where go-karts and Ferris wheels and Celebration Parks are welcome

Check out the 3 carnival rides you’ll see at the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival

For the first time, the 2019 Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival will feature carnival rides — including a 47-foot ferris wheel. The rides will be available for one day only — Saturday, Feb. 23 — at Honey Horn Plantation. Tickets cost $5 per ride.
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For the first time, the 2019 Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival will feature carnival rides — including a 47-foot ferris wheel. The rides will be available for one day only — Saturday, Feb. 23 — at Honey Horn Plantation. Tickets cost $5 per ride.

Go-karts and a Ferris wheel on Hilton Head Island?

Well, yes.

Forget about the zoning issue for a minute. Hilton Head needs stuff for people under 90 to do.

The last time we dug into this at the paper, we reported that from 2000 to 2014, the Town of Hilton Head Island aged at almost three times the national rate. We said in 2016 about a third of residents were older than 65 — up from 24 percent in 2000.

People like to snicker about this. They’ll say what Hilton Head really needs is one giant hearing aid, like a satellite that hovers overhead and turns up the volume on everything so we can HEAR.

Truthfully, a blue-haired tsunami means great things: more brain power, more spending power, and more volunteers with time to give, give, give and give some more to nonprofits bringing us arts, cultural and social services agencies.

But that doesn’t mean Hilton Head should always have the knee-jerk reflex of “Get Off My Lawn.”

The Ferris wheel that’s coming is a one-day thing at the Hilton Head Island Seafood Festival, which has blossomed into a big fish for Hilton Head. More power to them for bringing in something for people under 90. We need that.

The go-kart proposal is stickier. It would involve a change to the town’s Land Management Ordinance, which was not thrown together in a hurry. Changes should not be made lightly. It prohibits an outdoor go-kart track, such as the one proposed for Broad Creek Marina.

First comes the inevitable reaction: We’re going to be another Myrtle Beach.

Then comes an actual complaint that someone living in the vicinity may hear the gleeful squeals of children.

I guess there’s no problem with the gleeful squeals of leaf blowers. See: hearing aids.

Hilton Head the older has long fought Hilton Head the younger.

We’ve lived through the uprisings against bike paths, and a waterslide. Both were built by Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser, now considered the Patron Saint of Nirvana and Ecological Bliss.

We’ve also had miniature golf, parasailing, triathlons, marathons, fireworks shows, and, yes, a rollicking St. Patrick’s Day Parade — and none of it has killed us or turned us into another Myrtle Beach.

The Town of Hilton Head Island is thinking young by investing heavily in a University of South Carolina Beaufort campus, an expanded Island Recreation Center, and the Lowcountry Celebration Park at Coligny Circle, which the town website says will include “a large lawn and stage to accommodate festivals, concerts and other gatherings; a destination playground with an iconic ship playground; the Sandbox Children’s Museum; walking trails and boardwalks; exercise stations; additional parking and; improved access to Beach Parking.”

Hilton Head the younger can be a complex thing that involves housing young professionals can afford, and careers to keep them here.

Good luck with that, and thank heavens for the retiree industry.

But, for now, Hilton Head can do the easier thing, and the right thing, and simply think younger.

Senior editor David Lauderdale has been a Lowcountry journalist for more than 40 years. He oversees the editorial page and tells the stories of our community. He grew up in Atlanta, graduated from Erskine College, reared two children on Hilton Head Island, and is a popular public speaker.


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