Independence Day at Jacksonville Beach
a time honored tradition lives on
July 4, 2006 - Cloudless skies and bath water temperatures brought the masses out in droves this Fourth of July. They came from all over Jacksonville to enjoy a day of frolicking in the waves and laying out, followed by a mini festival with hot dogs, bar-b-que and beer, entertainment by the U.S. Navy, and a spectacular in your face kind of fireworks show originating from the end of the pier.
Jax Beach has always been the number one destination of Jacksonville residents on July 4th, and this year was no exception. They showed up with their beach umbrellas, ice coolers, boogie boards and fireworks, prepared to brave the heat for some fun in the sun and partying in the street. Despite warnings from city officials, fireworks could be heard going off all day and night. Locals threw their traditional 4th of July house parties and fun was had by all.
An extra special treat at mid afternoon for our beach guests as they turned their heads to the south to see the Space Shuttle Discovery arc its way across the Atlantic enroute to the International Space Station. After being scrubbed twice due to thunderheads, the third time was the charm. The sunburnt faces of our redneck friends swelled with pride as a roar of applause echoed up and down the beach.
At the Seawalk Pavilion, the festivities began at 4 pm with plenty of food fun and beer, as the U.S. Navy serenaded the crowd with J.P. Sousa, Jazz, and Punk Rock. Yes, the Navy rocked the beach!
With the sun setting in the west, the crowd migrated to the east where the tide was low, leaving plenty of temporary real estate for fireworks fans to get up close and personal. As dusk turned to dark the fireworks gained in intensity with expectations of the show to come.
It started with a bang! (sorry) For twenty minutes the bombs bursted in the air echoing through the high-rises breaking all of the Jacksonville Beach decibel laws, raining trails of fire smoke and flame on the heads of the awe struck spectators. Finally the grand finale, with the deafening blasts, the clouds of smoke, and a myriad of colors turning night into a surrealistic day. And then it was over.
Or was it? The exodus from the beach found cars in gridlock as local bicyclist took over First Street. Brave and fearless peddlers armed only with reflectors rode side by side passing at will irregardless of lanes, pedestrians, cars or cops. These brave beach people took on the traffic and won, prompting one peddler to muse “what are all these cars doing on First Street anyway?”
As the parties wound down and the townies went west, one could still hear the last of the fireworks till the wee hours of the morning.
Fourth of July in Jacksonville Beach – the Tradition Lives