The Fourth of July is one of our country’s proudest traditions. From cookouts and family to music and fireworks, nobody quite beats the grandeur of a St. Augustine Independence Day. To help in your search for a celebration like no other, here’s an all-inclusive guide to a Fourth of July in St. Augustine.
First, there’s music…
One of the region’s most popular big bands, the All Star Orchestra, returns to the Plaza de la Constitución at 6pm for swing music and patriotic favorites to start your night off in the right mood. The concert is free to the public, but don’t forget to bring your own lounge or lawn chairs!
Then come the fireworks…
Nothing is more iconic to an Ancient City Independence Day than the Fireworks Over The Matanzas, a breathtaking and majestic display of pyrotechnics rivaled by none. The show starts at 9:30pm and lasts for 20 minutes.
The display is located between the Castillo de San Marcos and the Bridge of Lions for optimum visibility and an unparalleled stage. The awe-inspiring fireworks are expertly choreographed to a soundtrack of patriotic music while the public crowds the streets for a taste of the electric atmosphere.
For over two decades Fireworks Over The Matanzas has been produced by Fireworks by Santore, a company based in nearby Flagler County, that’s been in the fireworks business for over 125 years. Fireworks Over The Matanzas is just one of more than 250 shows produced by Fireworks by Santore annually including shows for Daytona International Speedway, Sea World Orlando, Walt Disney World and a large number of corporate and private events all across the country.
This year’s Fireworks Over The Matanzas will include over 5,000 individual shells ranging in size from 1″ to 12″ in diameter. Some will explode as low as 100 feet above Matanzas Bay, others as high as 2,000 feet and everywhere in between. In addition to St. Augustine, Santore crews will be firing shows in 40 other locations on July 4th to celebrate our nation’s birthday.
Make your way downtown after the show…
In years past, many visitors have opted to elongate their celebrations by perusing the shops on St. George or wandering to find a late night meal. Many businesses downtown have decided to extend their hours on the 4th to accommodate the flood of patrons. Avoid a bit of the crazy traffic by spending a little time enjoying the city!
Keep your night safe and legal…
Attendees of Fireworks Over The Matanzas should remember two important safety rules that will be strictly enforced:
- Alcohol is prohibited on public property, including parks, streets and sidewalks; and
- Possession of fireworks that explode or leave the ground is illegal and those found with such fireworks will have prohibited fireworks confiscated and be subject to $100 citation or arrest.
Simply put: Have a great time with friends and family, but keep it safe and legal!
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 Drive and Cuna Street. 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.
Getting in, parking, and getting out…
Though St. Augustine’s streets add to its charm and the character of the city, sometimes they can be a crowded hassle. But never fear! Anticipating the abundance of traffic, the St. Johns County Police Department has devised a traffic plan to get everyone as safely and quickly as possible out of the city after the show.
Rerouting of traffic begins at 8:30pm and will include prohibiting vehicular traffic on the Bridge of Lions, Avenida Menendez and S. Castillo Dr. 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.
The Historic Downtown Parking Facility located at the Visitors Information Center can accommodate 1,200 vehicles. The rate is $12 per car per entry.
Parking in city owned lots and on-street is free on July 4th, as it is on all national holidays, with the largest concentration of surface parking located on Granada St. behind the Lightner Building. Also there will be no access to or from the parking lot of the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument from 6:00pm until approximately 11:00pm.
Following the show, King St. and W. Castillo Dr. will be dedicated to west-bound traffic out of the downtown to Ponce de Leon Blvd. (U.S. 1). Traffic signals in the downtown area, along Ponce de Leon Blvd. (U.S. 1), Anastasia Blvd., and State Roads 312, 207 and 16 will be monitored to facilitate traffic flow.
If arriving by water…
The Bridge of Lions will not open for marine traffic from 8:30pm 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.
…Or by bicycle
For some time now, St. Augustine has become a biking city with much of the sights an easy and pleasant ride from each other. Whether living downtown or parking a ways away and biking the last stretch, the Ancient City is accommodating the influx of two-wheeled transport.
Bicycle parking sites are located throughout the downtown making it easy to secure bikes before going to dinner or taking that pre-fireworks stroll. Click here to see locations of permanent bicycle parking. There will also be temporary bicycle parking locations set up at Ponce Circle and on the north side of the Visitor Information Center.
Take this time to give back to St. Johns County educators…
The City of St. Augustine is partnering with INK (Investing In Kids), formerly known as the St. Johns County Education Foundation, and The Bailey Group Resource Depot, in their annual Tools 4 Schools supply drive.
On July 4th, INK will be collecting school supplies in support of St. Johns County teachers. On average, teachers spend $600 of their own money on school supplies for their students and classroom. The goal of Tools 4 Schools is to lower this cost to our educators.
Donations will be collected from 4:00pm until 8:00pm at:
- St. Augustine Visitor Information Center, 10 S. Castillo Dr.
- Davis Park, Anastasia Blvd. @ N. St. Augustine Blvd.
- Lightner Museum, 75 King St.
The top ten supplies needed are:
- USB flashdrives,
- glue sticks,
- composition notebooks,
- construction paper,
- boxes of facial tissue,
- disinfectant wipes,
- erasers, both long and cap,
- dry erase markers,
- highlighters, and
And finally, those who make it possible…
Fireworks Over The Matanzas is made possible by support from the City of St. Augustine and the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council. For Florida’s Historic Coast visitor information, call 800.653.2489 or visit www.FloridasHistoricCoast.com.
City staff from every department work during the days leading up to July 4th to make sure the holiday is safe and exciting for all who attend Fireworks Over The Matanzas.
In particular, the personnel of the St. Augustine Police and Fire Departments, Streets and Grounds Division, Solid Waste and Sanitation Divisions, the Visitor Information Center and Historic Downtown Parking Facility spend their holiday serving the public and earn a special thank you from the community for their dedication.
For more information about Fireworks Over The Matanzas, visit www.FireworksOverTheMatanzas.