Barge in sound is a possibility for fireworks

By on May 4, 2011

After disappointing residents and visitors last year, Nags Head has launched an effort to renew a tradition of fireworks on the Fourth of July.

The town plans to explore staging a display from a barge in the sound and will apply for a grant from the Dare County Tourism Board, which is making $25,000 available for fireworks.

Wednesday’s decision by the town’s Board of Commissioners follows an announcement by Kill Devil Hills that it would not put on a fireworks show for the second year in a row because there is nowhere available with a buffer zone large enough to meet state regulations.

“I truly believe that with the industry we have, tourism, that we need to shop all avenues to put on fireworks this year,” Commissioner Anna Sadler said.

Local officials got an earful from residents, visitors and property managers when fireworks on the Dare County beaches were cancelled last July 4 because of new state regulations. They were also cancelled on Hatteras Island. Manteo and Corolla had displays.

After an accident that killed four workers in Ocracoke in 2009, the state passed new regulations that required training and certification for anyone involved in handling fireworks. The rule was suspended because some localities had not had enough time to arrange training. But for many, including Kill Devil Hills, it was too late.

Discussion by Nags Head commissioners centered on the possibility of locating a barge in a centralized area of the sound where Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills and Manteo could join together and get more bang for the buck.

Also under consideration is a smaller show at the old Windmill Point site, which is jointly owned by the Town of Nags Head and the Dare County Tourism Board.

“We wouldn’t be able to throw the big shells that we’ve thrown in the past but maybe a smaller display,” said Fire Chief Kevin Zorc.

Elizabeth City launched its fireworks from a barge in the Pasquotank River last year with no apparent problems, Zorc said.

Using Jennette’s Pier looks less likely, although pier Manager Mike Remige said last week he would explore the possibility.

Zorc said the fire risk would probably be too high at the new pier, which includes covered areas.

“I would hate to damage that pier in any way,” he said.

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