From grilling in your backyard to spending the day at the beach to relaxing on a blanket and enjoying the fireworks, July 4th is the site of generations of traditions. As a beach town and a tourist destination all in one, it can be easy to get lost in the hubbub of the city and spend most of your day navigating the crowds instead of relaxing. So to help you on your way to a fantastic holiday, here’s your guide to fireworks, entertainment, and parking for Independence Day 2017.
Fireworks Over the Matanzas | July 4
Starting at 6:00pm one of the region’s most popular big bands, The All Star Orchestra, returns to the Plaza de la Constitución for a two-hour show filled with big band and swing music along with all the traditional patriotic favorites. The All Star Orchestra’s performance from the Plaza’s Gazebo runs from 6:00pm until 8:00pm. The concert is free and those attending should bring lounge chairs for seating.
Fireworks Over The Matanzas, the highlight of St. Augustine’s traditional July 4th activities, has become synonymous with celebrating Independence Day in the Nation’s Oldest City. The spectacular aerial display of pyrotechnics high over Matanzas Bay begins at 9:30pm.
The 20-minute display is tightly choreographed to a stirring soundtrack of great popular and patriotic music delivered over an extensive sound system transforming the entire Bayfront between the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and the Bridge of Lions into a theatre of sight and sound.
World Golf Village | July 3
World Golf Village will celebrate Independence Day with its annual community fireworks on Monday, July 3. The stunning fireworks display will take place over the lake in the heart of World Golf Village at approximately 9:30pm.
Tickets are not required to view the fireworks. Enjoy games for the kids and a live DJ providing entertainment during the fireworks show. The Museum Café will be open from noon – 9pm. Additional food and beverage will be on sale throughout the grounds. Parking costs $10 per vehicle.
No coolers or pets. The Movie & Fireworks packages are sold out.
Those celebrating Independence Day downtown should remember two important safety rules that will be strictly enforced:
- Alcohol is prohibited on public property, including parks, streets and sidewalks
- Possession of fireworks that explode or leave the ground is illegal and those found with such fireworks will have them confiscated and be subject to $100 citation or arrest.
Personnel from the St. Augustine Fire Department and the St. Johns County Emergency Medical Services will patrol the downtown throughout the evening, staging out of an area at the corner of S. Castillo Dr. and Cuna St. That same area will also be equipped with a “cool zone trailer,” a facility allowing those feeling overwhelmed by the heat to rest for a few minutes, often a good way to avoid heat exhaustion.
St. Augustine’s Old World streets are a key component of its Old World charm and a challenge when dispersing large numbers of vehicles, but the St. Augustine Police Department has refined a traffic plan that moves vehicles safely and as quickly as possible out of the downtown area following the show.
Parking in city owned lots and on-street is free on July 4, as it is on all federal holidays. The Historic Downtown Parking Facility located at 1 Cordova St., adjacent to the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitors Information Center, can accommodate 1,200 vehicles. The rate is $12 per car per entry, or $3 with a ParkNow Card.
Parking in the lot at the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is not free and is enforced by the National Park Service from 8am-5pm, seven days a week, including federal holidays. There will be no access to or from the Castillo’s parking lot on July 4 from 6pm until approximately 11pm.
Rerouting of traffic begins at 8:30pm and will include prohibiting vehicular traffic on the Bridge of Lions, Avenida Menendez, and S. Castillo Drive in order to accommodate the vast number of pedestrians.
The best advice is to arrive early, explore the city, enjoy the show, and be patient during departure.
OTHER METHODS OF DOWNTOWN TRANSPORTATION
A free Park & Ride Shuttle will be available on July 4 from 6pm until midnight from four parking locations along Anastasia Blvd. including Anastasia Baptist Church (1650 A1A South), St. Augustine Amphitheatre (1340-C A1A South), R.B. Hunt Elementary School (125 Magnolia Dr.), and the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park (999 Anastasia Blvd.). The shuttle will drop passengers at the east end of the Bridge of Lions and pick-up from that location for the return trip following the fireworks. Old Town Trolley Tours and Ripley’s Red Train Tours are providing a dozen buses for the shuttle.
The Bridge of Lions will not open for marine traffic from 8:00pm until 10:30pm. Vessels will be prohibited in an area north of the Bridge of Lions to a point approximately in line with Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Water based law enforcement will patrol Matanzas Bay and will notify vessels of the prohibited area.
A growing trend in recent years has been the use of bicycles by those who live close to downtown or to take advantage of perimeter parking areas and bike the last mile to downtown. Bicycle parking sites are located throughout the downtown making it easy to secure bikes before going to dinner or taking that pre-fireworks stroll.
For more information on Fireworks Over the Matanzas, visit www.cityofstaug.com/fireworks. For information on World Golf Village fireworks, visit www.worldgolfhalloffame.org/events. Photo by Jason Green.