- Last Updated on Saturday, 24 November 2012 09:14
- Published on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 22:42
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Despite the above 100 degree temperatures, spectators came out in droves to watch Colonial Beach’s Independence Day Fireworks.
Spectators started coming in in the morning hours and by 2 p.m., parking spaces were filling up. People who came to camp out on the beach all day and stake a claim to the best seats in the house made the best of the heat by swimming, sunbathing and picnic-ing.
Colonial Beach Police Chief Kenneth Blevins Sr. reported the stealth traffic counting report for incoming traffic from 8 a.m. to midnight on July 4, counted 1,830 vehicles coming into town.
For the holiday weekend, beginning at 8 a.m. July 4 to 8 a.m. July 9, there were 15,703 vehicles recorded entering town on Colonial Ave.
The week prior to July 4 brought record heat and no rain to Colonial Beach, so town officials issued a drought watch, requesting citizens to refrain from all nonessential water use.
The conservation efforts coupled with public works personnel helping with parking, traffic cone placement and traffic signaling prompted town officials to close the public restroom around noon on the Fourth. Several portable toilets where available for public use.
In the past, the town has sustained damage in the public restrooms during high crowds when they were not maintained and stocked, so the town routinely brings in portable toilets for reinforcement.
Town Manager Val Foulds said in an email, “We had planned to keep all the bathrooms closed, since we provided several portable toilets, strategically placed near all bathrooms. However, the decision was made to keep them open for as long as we could maintain them, and do periodic checks for any sign of vandalism etc. Once we had to pull the staff members off to take care of other tasks, we decided to shut the bathrooms down. Last year on July 4 we did not open them at all. To maintain them properly over a long holiday weekend is more than we can support. This year since the holiday fell in the middle of the week, it was slightly more manageable.”
Foulds added later in a personal interview that water conservation was a big factor this year as well.
Despite a high police presence from the Westmoreland Sheriff’s office and Colonial Beach Police Department, there were several incidents which Sheriff C. O. Balderson said comes with having such big crowds. However with the high heat, for the most part, the crowd was pretty well behaved.
There were 54 calls for service requested on July 4. Only five resulted in arrests, 14 parking tickets and six traffic summonses being issued by the Colonial Beach Police Department.
There were a few minor incidents reported that required police presence on the boardwalk before, during and after the fireworks display that were investigated and handled by law enforcement on bike and foot patrol. These incidents were attended to by the Colonial Beach Police Department, Westmoreland County Sheriff’s and Charles County Sheriff’s offices.
The Westmoreland County Sheriff’s office did report that early in the evening a large crowd broke into two separate fights, one on the boardwalk and one on Washington Ave.
Sheriff’s deputies did report having to use pepper spray to disperse the crowd, but no charges were filed and the incidents were quickly dissolved.
Balderson reported three unrelated arrests were made for disorderly conduct resulting in the discovery of one individual who was wanted.
Throughout the day sheriff’s deputies were seen patrolling the residential areas as well as the boardwalk.
Some residents who learned that the crew shooting off fireworks were subcontractors for our usual company were skeptical that the show would not be as spectacular as in previous years. However the Bixler Pyrotechnics Company put on a really nice show, keeping with tradition.
On three separate occasions the crowd cheered, believing they had watched the grand finale, leaving the crowd lingering just a few minutes after they cheered for the actual finale, just to be sure the pyro experts didn’t have more up their sleeves.
Around midnight a quiet piece fell over Colonial Beach, except for the occasional personal fire works. Residents could hardly tell the town had been brimming over with visitors just hours before.