Fireworks displays survive as major attraction for visitors on the 4th

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) — Independence Day fireworks displays in the Grand Strand may be annual traditions that live on because they help attract people to the beach.

In Murrells Inlet the annual fireworks show marks the end of a festive July 4th that begins with a patriotic boat parade.

"The fireworks, the boat parade - year after year, it's like a tradition," said Jodi Smith.

Some of that same excitement can be felt in the Cherry Grove section of North Myrtle Beach each year too. The fireworks from fishing pier have become an Independence Day must-see for thousands of people from around the region on both sides of the state border.

"Every year during the 4th I'd come down to see them," said Lilly Gann. "They're really good. They're a really good show."

Her friend Caitey Chestnut confirmed it is an annual tradition for her family.

"Me and my family always come every year, to come stay at the hotel," Caitey said.

The Cherry Grove tradition could have ended last year when the city of North Myrtle Beach stopped paying for the fireworks. So the chamber of commerce stepped in, and fireworks technician Perry White said he can understand why.

"Because they know what attention getters they are to bring [visitors] in," he commented.

Those who enjoyed the boat parade in Murrells Inlet said they think that is the same reason the business community - through the Murrells Inlet 2020 organization - continues to support events on the 4th of July. The parade watchers said they think the effort pays off with big crowds. Stacey Fillman said it was hard to find a spot to watch the parade.

"We got there today and it was just mobbed with people," Fillman said. "So we found a new spot this year."

Surfside Beach is now the only municipality in the area that sponsors fireworks on the 4th.

Conway's chamber of commerce also organizes its patriotic celebration in July, Riverfest, but the event is always on a Saturday, which is rarely on the 4th.

"I think we changed a few years ago and kind of got away from the Fourth of July celebrations for the Riverfest," said Chris Grainger at the Conway Kayak Company, "and don't really know why we got away from it."

Myrtle Beach stopped hosting Independence Day events a few years ago, which leaves the fireworks to the business community instead of the city.

It may just come down to if organizers believe the fireworks displays will make a difference to visitors - if they matter enough to attract visitors. It seems for now, there is plenty of demand to be sure most of the displays continue.

"If there weren't fireworks here I'd definitely find another place to see fireworks. I'm glad they have it here, but I would definitely go find somewhere else [if they didn't have fireworks here]," Gann said.

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