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Palm Coast Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022 10 months ago

Palm Coast looks to shift Independence Day fireworks show to airport, hold celebration on July 4

The city has historically held its Independence Day event on July 3 to avoid conflicting with the Flagler Beach fireworks show on the Fourth.
by: Jonathan Simmons Managing Editor

For years, Palm Coast has celebrated Independence Day a day early, with a fireworks display and gathering in Town Center on July 3. 

City Council members don't want to do that anymore.

At a council meeting on Jan. 11, they decided to have city staff look into the possibility of shifting the event from Town Center to the Flagler County Executive Airport and holding it on July 4 itself. 

City staff had proposed the move to the larger venue at the airport, but Councilman Victor Barbosa suggested the date change. 

"I don't understand why Fourth of July is celebrated on the third of July," he said. "... When fireworks aren't on July 4, you see a lot of people doing fireworks at home, which is a lot bigger safety [issue] — multiple days instead of just one day. We can't just keep switching holidays to accommodate this stuff."

Lauren Johnson, a city chief of staff, said Palm Coast has held its event on July 3 to avoid conflicting with the city of Flagler Beach fireworks event that's held at the beach on July 4.

Palm Coast city staff members have met with representatives of Flagler Beach and the Flagler County Sheriff's Office and determined that simultaneous events wouldn't be feasible, she said. 

"Because of the limited resources ... we’re utilizing so many services that we couldn't conduct simultaneous events," she said.

Barbosa wasn't convinced, noting that other cities can manage July 4 events.

"If other cities can do it, we're going to have to learn to do it, too," Barbosa said. 

Splitting July 4 fireworks into two events on the same day might also mean that each event is smaller and more manageable, he said. 

City Councilmen Ed Danko and Eddie Branquinho agreed with Barbosa's suggestion to end the city's tradition of celebrating July 4 a day early.

"In my opinion, it's the same thing as celebrating Christmas Eve on the 23rd of December," Branquinho said. "It's just not there."

He suggested that Palm Coast look into the possibility of swapping off with Flagler Beach, year after year, to host the celebration.

"I think doing it on the third is just a mistake. ...  I think we need to focus on moving it to the fourth. It would be like doing a New Year's Eve celebration the day after or the day before. 

— ED DANKO, city councilman

"One year, we do it, the next year, Flagler Beach," he said, "and we do a bigger show, a better show."

But he added that Flagler Beach business owners accustomed to July 4 visitors might oppose that idea.

Councilman Nick Klufas noted that the city of Flagler Beach had considered not holding a large fireworks show this year at all: It had convened a special committee to determine how to host an Independence Day event without some of the nuisances that have come with previous July Fourth events. 

But Klufas agreed that the airport would probably be a better venue than Town Center, since the site of Town Center limits the size of the fireworks shells the city can use there.

"The bigger fireworks, whatever you can get, I'm all about it," Klufas said. 

At Town Center, city Recreation Supervisor Jared Dawson had explained, the venue allows for a 350-foot  clearance area around the launch area, limiting the city to 5-inch fireworks shells. 

The airport would allow for a 600-foot clearance area and shells of up to 8 inches.

Shifting to the airport would also mean that the city wouldn't have to shut down as many roads during the event, and the airport site would have more entrances and exits, making it easier to handle emergencies. 

The council told city staff to start working with Flagler Beach, the county government and the Tourist Development Council to make the shift to a July 4 event at the airport.






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