Marina not available for Fernandina Beach's 4th of July celebration

Nearly 2 years after Hurricane Matthew, Fernandina Harbor Marina still damaged

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FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Nearly two years after Hurricane Matthew swept up Florida's east coast, damage from the storm remains visible in Nassau County.

The Fernandina Harbor Marina, which still needs repairs to its docks and utilities, won't be available this Independence Day. But that won't stop the city of Fernandina Beach from putting on its annual Fourth of July celebration Wednesday night.

On Tuesday, American flags could be seen lining the streets of Fernandina Beach as the city prepared for the Independence Day celebration by the marina. 

“Hometown is what we’re all about," said R.J. Sicre, organizer of Light Up Amelia. 

The annual celebration's entertainment, contests and, of course, fireworks draw thousands every year.

But for the second year in a row, the marina remains damaged from Matthew, with the outer dock in disrepair. Even utilities were cut. 

City officials said the dock used to be a popular spot for July Fourth. In the past, boaters were able to dock at the marina and set up chairs for the fireworks show. But because of the damage from Matthew, city officials said, people aren't able to do that anymore.

"When the marina was functional, you'd have plenty of boats visiting. You'd have plenty of people walking on the piers and the docks," City Manager Dale Martin said. "That's missed."

Despite that, city leaders said the celebration still draws a big crowd.

"They are going to enjoy the activities, the fireworks," Sicre said. "This is not anything that’s going to change anything in people’s minds.”

The fireworks will be set off not far from the paper mill. Boaters can still set anchor and watch from the water. Others can watch from shore.

"They are just limited to land instead of being able to walk amongst the boats and say 'hi' to boaters," Martin said. 

City officials hope the repairs, which are estimated to cost about $6.5 million, will get started soon.

Fernandina Beach's Hometown All-American 4th of July Celebration starts at 5 p.m. Wednesday, and the fireworks will begin at 9 p.m. 

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