July 8, 2013

Celebrating Independence Day on Hatteras Island

Throngs of people gathered on the beach surrounding Avon Pier on Thursday evening, July 4, to celebrate America’s birthday by watching fireworks.
Traffic on Highway 12 was at a stand still in Avon as people jockeyed to find parking places of which there were few.  Lines of people flowed along the road towards the pier, since many had to park far away and walk the remaining distance to enjoy the festivities.
Anticipation of the July 4 fireworks display grew all afternoon.  The sounds of live music flooded the beach from the nearby Papawack Theatre at the Beach Klub.  A steady parade of people trudged through the dunes to find the best view for the pyrotechnic show, which was scheduled to begin at 9:15.
Beach blankets, which served as home base for families and friends, covered the sand.  Some brought their own music, and the air was alive with all kinds of sounds, including the laughter of children who could hardly wait for the show.
Frisbees were tossed about, kids ran around with glow sticks that could be shaped into headbands and necklaces, while many adults sat back in their beach chairs, sipping a drink from their cooler.
Just before show time, an unwelcome guest came from the skies as rain poured out of a passing cloud.  The brief 10-minute shower did delay the start of the fireworks for a few minutes, but it did nothing to diminish the excitement about the brilliant colors and loud explosions that would dominate everybody’s attention very shortly.
Loud cheers and chaotic clapping of hands rose from the sandy blankets when the first streaks of light exploded skyward from the end of the Avon pier.  The big moment was at hand.  The beach was illuminated from the glow of the show.  People “oohed” and “aahed” at the beauty and power of this American tradition.
The people who love to spend Fourth of July on Hatteras Island do not take these holiday fireworks for granted. 

On July 4, a horrific explosion killed four members of a pyrotechnic company crew setting up on Ocracoke.  After that, the state law for crews setting off the fireworks was strengthened.  Because of the new requirements, there were no fireworks on Hatteras or Ocracoke islands in 2010 and 2011. 

In 2012, fireworks returned to the Avon Pier but not to Hatteras village or Ocracoke. 
The finale was a spectacle that kept the crowd spellbound for a couple of minutes.  It was so powerful that it could be seen from the Ocracoke ferry dock.  People were crazy with excitement as the dramatic show came to an end.  Happy Birthday, America!
In unison, the onlookers shook the sand from their blankets, and the orderly exit from the beach began.  Traffic was unbelievable for this little island town.  A local deputy directed the lines of cars for a slow but non-eventful trip home.  It took forever to get out of Avon.  Surprisingly, traffic was backed for about a mile going into Buxton.
But it wasn’t a problem.  We were just happy to have fireworks again on Hatteras Island.

Fourth of July Fireworks at the Beach is sponsored by the Avon Property Owners Association and funded in part by the Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.  The fireworks display is presented by PYROTECNICO at the Avon Pier, permitted by and in cooperation with the National Park Service.
This event is additionally made possible through generous donations from the Hatteras Island business community, residents, property owners, and guests.  Corporate sponsors for this event are ACE Hardware, Avon Fishing Pier, Avon Property Owners Assn., Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, Kinnakeet Shores Homeowners, Hatteras Realty, Koru Village & Spa, Outer Beaches Realty, Sun Realty, and Surf or Sound Realty.  (Please see www.avonpoa.org or Avon Property Owners Association’s Facebook page for a complete list of other business contributors.)


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