The fireworks on Jekyll Island are a long-standing tradition enjoyed by thousands of people each year. This year, the Jekyll Island State Park Authority, after consulting with public safety officials and the Georgia State Patrol, and after considering alternative sites, has decided that construction-related road closures and detours on Jekyll Island would ceate unaccpetble traffic hazards and safety risks if the fireworks show were to be held as usual.
Although the fireworks will be missed by many people, it is clearly the responsibility of the JIA to put the safety of the public first. No one would want to have a memory of a 4th of July celebration marred by an incident where a person was hurt or died because emergency vehicles were unable to reach them.
Jekyll fireworks show fizzles
The Brunswick News
By Erika Capek
March 17, 2011
Jekyll Island residents and visitors won't be looking to the sky this Fourth of July - unless they go elsewhere, that is.
The annual fireworks show on the state-owned island has been cancelled because of public safety concerns because of construction, Jekyll officials said Wednesday.
The decision to cancel this year's show is not sitting well with some in the island's residential and business communities, who look forward to the event for personal or financial reasons, or both.
"It's tradition," said Shirley Rayhon, general manager of Days Inn and Suites on Jekyll Island. "What is July Fourth without fireworks?
"I really think that's what people look forward to. It's part of the whole atmosphere of that weekend."
She said the Independence Day weekend is the busiest of the year and added that hotels, as well as the island in general, will lose business and revenue because of the cancellation of fireworks.
Rayhon said the hotel averaged 98 percent occupancy the past several years when offering a three-night minimum during the July Fourth holiday.
She's said locals and guests will be let down.
She's not alone in her thinking. Jekyll resident Rande Simpson said the news of the cancellation was disappointing to more than just her family.
"I think that several groups of people are going to be disappointed," Simpson said.
That includes out-of-towners who flock to the beach on the Fourth of July, she said.
The decision to not have fireworks was made by the Jekyll Island Authority after looking at a variety of scenarios and options, said Eric Garvey, spokesperson for the state-owned island.
Not only is there the construction of the beach village project, but the North Beach parking lot is being used for the temporary shopping center, and additional road side areas can't be used because of dune restoration, Garvey said.
"It's a matter of public safety (in relation to) the ongoing beach village construction," Garvey said. "We don't have the parking capacity. Getting everyone off the island with the detours presents a public safety issue."
He said Jekyll gets about 10,000 vehicles on the island during the July Fourth holiday.
Jekyll Island will still celebrate the nation's 235th birthday even without the 12-minute firework display, which costs about $1,000 per minute, he said. There will be daytime and family-oriented activities with food and games.
Garvey said the authority is interested in working with the hotels to put on a celebration for guests.
"There are still going to be a lot of folks who will come to picnic on the beach and enjoy the island," he said. "We're still very much interested in having a great Fourth of July."