KNOW LOCAL LAWS TO HAVE A HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY
The Fourth of July without fireworks is like Christmas without Santa Claus. And while nothing says summer fun like an evening of brightly colored sparklers, local officials say it’s best to leave the big pyrotechnics displays to the professionals.
According to Town of Hilton Head Island staff attorney Brian Hulbert, it is legal to shoot off fireworks on the island — but you’ll need a permit from the town manager if you want to light up your display on the beach, which Hulbert said is defined as the shoreline between Fish Haul Creek Park on Hilton Head’s north end and Lands End in Sea Pines.
Fines for unauthorized beach fireworks displays can be as high as $1,082.50, Hulbert said.
“We just follow the state law, of course,” he said. “The state does not prohibit discharging fireworks to my knowledge. They allow the sale of it. It’s up to localities to decide whether to allow discharging fireworks or not, and the town to this point has prohibited it on the beach but nowhere else.”
Hulbert said that about a year ago, Hilton Head Town Council discussed banning setting off fireworks throughout the town but decided against the ordinance.
Town of Hilton Head Fire Rescue chief Brad Tadlock urges caution when dealing with fireworks, and encourages Lowcountry residents to reconsider setting off their own displays.
“When people buy them and shoot them off themselves, they risk injury,” he said. “Whether it be from them not handling them properly or something going wrong with the fireworks, there’s always the potential for injury.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, thousands of people — mostly children and teenagers — are injured every July 4 while setting off fireworks.
There’s also a fire risk depending on the weather, which on the Fourth can be rather dry — the perfect setting for an accidental blaze.
“Open spaces are dry,” Tadlock said. “The pine straw is dry. Your neighbor’s roof with pine straw on it might be dry. There’s obviously a fire risk that could be damaging both to the environment and to structures.”
Tadlock said that over the years, local firefighters have had to respond to yard fires and partial structure fires caused by fireworks. They’ve also responded to several beach fires.
Tadlock said the No. 1 reason fireworks aren’t allowed on the beach is the wind. Breezes that come in off the ocean can blow fireworks back onto land or onto a building. Occasionally, Tadlock said, the wind can alter the flight of a firework, sparking a fire on the dunes.
“If you catch the vegetation on fire, it could spread to structures or land on a structure. People shoot these things up in the air; you no longer have control over it,” Tadlock said. “It’s just a recipe for problems.”
Those are problems the town of Bluffton hopes to avoid. The town prohibits the possession, sale and discharge of fireworks within town limits, according to Bluffton Police Department community relations manager Joy Nelson. However, much of greater Bluffton lies outside town limits and is known as “unincorporated Beaufort County.” In these areas, said Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Bob Bromage, the sale or discharge of fireworks requires a permit from the office of Beaufort County administrator Gary Kubic.
Unincorporated Beaufort County includes the Alljoy neighborhood — home to Bluffton’s only beach. During last year’s July 4 holiday weekend, Alljoy residents complained about revelers shooting off fireworks on the beach. Longtime Alljoy resident Kirk Taylor also said many people parked on private lawns to watch professional fireworks displays visible over Hilton Head. Since Alljoy Beach recently became a public park overseen by Beaufort County, this year it will be easier for Beaufort County sheriff’s deputies to issue citations for parking violations and other infractions. Bromage said offenders can be fined $200 or given 30 days in jail if caught shooting off fireworks on Alljoy Beach, and they’ll face a $100 fine or 30 days in jail if caught shooting off fireworks elsewhere in Bluffton.
FIREWORKS ON THE FOURTH Hilton Head Island
Looking to celebrate the Fourth of July with a dazzling display of fireworks? Check out these public displays on Hilton Head Island. They’re popular with Lowcountry residents and island visitors alike, so plan on arriving early to ensure you have a good viewing spot.
SKULL CREEK FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION
When: Entertainment begins late afternoon; fireworks begin at about 9:30 p.m.
Where: Based at Hudson's Seafood House On the Docks and Skull Creek Boathouse, both off Squire Pope Road
Details: Fireworks are shot off from a barge on Skull Creek. Free parking and shuttle service will be available from 6 to 10 p.m. from the Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island parking lot on Gumtree Road. Food and beverages are available; no coolers allowed.
HARBOURFEST AT SHELTER COVE HARBOUR
When: HarbourFest begins at 6 p.m.; fireworks will be launched from a barge on Calibogue Sound at about 9:15 p.m.
Where: Shelter Cove Harbour & Marina, mid-island off William Hilton Parkway
Details: Family entertainer Shannon Tanner performs at 6:30 and 8:30 p.m. Other available activites include Cappy the Clown, face-painting and carnival games. Food and beverages will be available.
When: Gregg Russell performs his free kids concert from 8 to 9 p.m. under the Liberty Oak. Fireworks will begin at about 9 p.m.
Where: Harbour Town, Sea Pines
Details: A free trolley runs to parking on Greenwood Ave.