The annual Palm Coast fireworks celebration of Independence Day will return this year on July 3 along with the traditional Central Park picnic, with no restrictions on attendance except for a recommendation of physical distancing.
The city has been marking its own July 4 celebrations in tandem with Flagler Beach since 2010, always a day before or a day after Flagler Beach’s big-draw event that’s held on July 4. The announcement was a surprise: it was not discussed by the city council, neither at a meeting nor at a workshop.
But this year, like last year, Flagler Beach has elected not to go ahead with its July 4 parade and fireworks, citing covid safety issues and the impossibility of practicing physical distancing along the parade route or even on the beach and along State Road A1A when the fireworks go off. Anyone who’s attended Flagler Beach’s July 4 celebrations would be familiar with its throngs of people as the barrier island becomes a swarm of shoulder-to-shoulder bodies.
“Yeah, 40,000 People descending upon our community and we’re only halfway there and getting folks vaccinated certainly was a concern,” Bob Snyder, who heads the Flagler County Health Department, said last month on WNZF, after Flagler Beach’s decision to hold off. “I’m glad to concern that was shared by all the commissioners so we’re being smart about this. We’re being careful. We’re being cautious because we’re know we’re so close to licking this thing, and getting to a much, much safer place.”
Flagler Beach’s decision drew criticism, including from County Commissioner Joe Mullins, causing Flagler Beach City Commissioner Jane Mealy to take the commissioner to task publicly on Monday. “We cannot have 40 or 50,000 people in the middle of a pandemic, which is not over,” Mealy told commissioners at that meeting. “You can have it out at the fairgrounds you can have it at the airport because you can spread people out. You’ve all been to July 4 In Flagler Beach. It is not spread out. We can’t ask people if they’ve had a vaccine or not, not allowed to do that. What are you going to do, come over the bridge and say, we’re only going to allow 1000 people? Good luck with that. Think about the difference in the situation. So I’m glad you’re doing what you’re doing, that you’re being reasonable, that you listen to your staff, but don’t tell us what to do.”
On the radio in the same Free For All Fridays show when Snyder had just spoken about Flagler Beach’s restraint, David Ayres, the host of the show and Flagler Broadcasting’s general manager, who coordinates the Palm Coast fireworks event, said: ” Oh, there’s going to be fireworks July 4 in Flagler Beach, all up and down the beach, and probably it’ll be one of the coolest displays that you’ve ever seen. Because you can buy some awesome fireworks at these roadside stands.”
Palm Coast’s announcement today was only half a surprise: the city had resumed its Food Truck Tuesdays and its Movies in the Park. “I know that Matt has been leading this discussion in partnership with the radio station and in consultation with the Health Department and our other departments including obviously our fire chief as far as what a responsible event would look like,” Mayor Milissa Holland said today. She was referring to Matt Morton, the city manager.
“Matt had been monitoring it all along and made the decision to resume this event as well as food truck Tuesdays and movies in the park. So those events are beginning again,” Holland said. “This has been a trying year for many in our community and I can’t think of a better way for us to be outdoors and make those important connections again, as we celebrate and recognize such an important day in the history of our Country, our Independence.”
Since 2010 when the city partnered with WNZF’s Flagler Broadcasting to organize the first picnic and fireworks show in Town center, the occasion has turned into a communal picnic with coolers, lawn chairs, and a few Independence Day commemorations. Chief among them has been the fire department’s Patrick Juliano–known to many for his bagpipe performances–who gathers local elected officials and has them read excerpts of the Constitution (the full, original Constitution, not the abridged kind that recently found favor on the County Commission).
Holland plans on being at the July 3 event.
We are so excited to offer this cherished, family-friendly event to residents again this summer,” said Parks and Recreation Director Lauren Johnston in a release issued this afternoon. “We invite those of all ages to join us that evening in Central Park in honor of our nation’s birthday with this spectacular show under the stars.”
The show is at 9 p.m., and will consist of about 15 minutes of fireworks by Santore, the Flagler County fireworks manufacturer. It’ll include Chrysanthemums, Peonies, Crossettes, Willows and more. The fireworks are funded by a grant from the Flagler County Tourist Development Council.
The event and parking are free. Beginning at 5 p.m., the intersection of Lake Avenue and City Place – and its immediate vicinity – will be closed off. That area at the back side of Central Park is where the fireworks will be set off. Bring your blanket, chairs, pop-up tents, coolers and picnic supplies to enjoy this festive family-friendly event starting at 6 p.m. Don’t forget your sunscreen and bug spray. Food vendors will not be available like in years past. Please do not bring your own fireworks.
Good maybe it’ll keep the jerks from shooting them off over my house all freaking night. No one thinks about other people and if they have PTSD or of their animals do, nope it’s just me, me, me…
Florida you need serious help. As people are dying you are doing nothing to help. Something very evil about this whole thing.
Its denial of the facts to make the Economy look better. By no means do I want lockdowns it’s too late for that but leave it to the Powers that be and a whole lot more people will die for sure.
Concerned FC citizen says
And people will wonder why there is a surge in Covid-19 cases two weeks after the fireworks display. Oh well, you can’t stop people from lacking common sense.
That is great news! Missed not having the fireworks and Independence Day celebration last year!
Stay Alert says
No thanks, I will stay home and watch for criminals scoping out peoples houses that go to the fireworks……… Cops to busy to watch all the homes. Someone has to be in the “WATCHTOWER”.
Flagler Beach City Commission is an embarrassment. All adjoining beach communities are having their fireworks. All local ordinances regarding COVID have been dropped in Florida. Give people a choice, if they’ve been vaccinated they can attend. Those who haven’t can decide if they want to risk catching it.
Thank goodness some politicians have some sense. Flagler Beach is being too cautious.