Palm Coast will ask Flagler Beach to alternate fireworks on the Fourth of July

·4 min read
File photo of the annual Fourth of July fireworks display put on by the City of Flagler Beach.
File photo of the annual Fourth of July fireworks display put on by the City of Flagler Beach.

Palm Coast will pitch to Flagler Beach the idea of alternating fireworks celebrations each year on the Fourth of July. But whether Palm Coast will host this year's display on July 3 or 4 remains undecided.

The issue began after Palm Coast announced plans to move its fireworks show to the Flagler Executive Airport from Town Center, which it has outgrown due to larger crowds and development. The City Council also indicated it would hold the celebration on July 4, instead of July 3 as it had been doing.

The proposed change sparked concern from Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly and the City of Flagler Beach.

Palm Coast has yet to decide whether to set off the fireworks on July 3 or July 4, said Mayor David Alfin in a phone interview after Tuesday's City Council meeting. Alfin said he will meet with Flagler Beach officials to discuss upcoming plans.

Previous coverage: Palm Coast mayor favors keeping July Fourth fireworks on July 3, moving venue to airport

How it started: Palm Coast could move fireworks show to July 4, worrying Flagler Beach officials

Alfin will also discuss with Flagler Beach alternating the shows with Palm Coast having fireworks on the Fourth one year and Flagler Beach the next, according to a live broadcast of the meeting.

Flagler Beach launches its fireworks from its pier. And regardless of what Palm Coast decides, Flagler Beach is not expected to have a pier in 2023 as it replaces the current wooden structure with a concrete pier.

“It would be my understanding that Flagler Beach may not have a pier even next year, so it would probably be their last hurrah for the mouse that roared,” Alfin said.

Alfin said safety is a priority for any event, particularly when you have a mass public gathering.

But alternating the Fourth of July celebration would just strain resources over two days, said Scott Spradley, the chair of the City of Flagler Beach Ad-Hoc 4th of July Findings Committee, in a phone interview.

Flagler Beach holds more than fireworks on the Fourth of July, said Spradley, who, while he serves on the committee, is not a city official. It also has a parade and a 5K race, he said.

He said preparation for the parade begins at 5 a.m. while law enforcement is working on traffic until 2 a.m.

People won’t go to the airport all day for evening fireworks but they will go to the beach all day, Spradley said.

“You’ve cherry-picked from the Fourth and put it to the third and then you still have everyone coming to town on the Fourth for all the other events,” Spradley said.

“Whereas July Fourth in Palm Coast, when they don’t have fireworks it’s business as usual, “ Spradley said. “But in Flagler Beach we have a whole list of activities throughout the day that require sheriff participation.”

Sheriff's office concerned about strain on resources

Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Division Chief Jon Welker attended Tuesday's meeting and repeated the sheriff’s office concerns that a fireworks display in Palm Coast on July Fourth the same night as one in Flagler Beach would strain law enforcement resources.

Welker added that two fireworks shows on the same night would also tax resources from the fire departments and the cities, including items like traffic cones and message boards, which are needed for the events.

Welker said that more people have moved into the area and also that other communities may not have Fourth of July fireworks due to COVID, which would drive even more people to fireworks shows in Flagler County.

“The population increase to our community, we all know it’s exploded,” Welker said. “We don’t know what that means for these events.”

Besides the fireworks celebrations, law enforcement would also have to handle the increased number of calls that come with a holiday weekend. He said the sheriff’s office might have to cancel leave for deputies.

Welker also referred to a possible third Independence Day-related event, the Freedom Fest, which took place on July 3 last year at the Flagler Executive Airport. But that event will return to its usual date in November this year.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Palm Coast-Flagler Beach fireworks dispute: alternating events suggested