4th of July fireworks to return to Jacksonville Beach

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - Fourth of July fireworks will be back at Jacksonville Beach this year.

Last year, the city canceled its annual fireworks show, and community members and business owners were upset about it.

"Fourth of July is always a really good time for the beaches, people riding their bikes up and down the strip, so it will be pretty fun," said Alexander Recci, who works at Off the Hook restaurant.

Beach businesses are looking forward to the money-making holiday.

"It brings in a lot of foot traffic, which is great for the businesses, and it really increases the popularity of the beach," Recci said. "The locals here, we love it, you know."

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham knows it's a big money-maker for business owners.

"There's no question," he said. "I think last year when we didn't have fireworks, one of the primary complaints of businesses is they felt like they lost a large portion of annual revenue. And they're very excited, obviously."

The Jacksonville Beach City Council voted 6-1 to reinstate the fireworks. Although it passed, there are some concerns.

"Last time we had the fireworks was two years ago," Latham said. "The amount of people when they came into Jacksonville Beach was really too many for the local Police Department to safely ensure everybody."

A 20-minute fireworks show will cost the city $25,000, plus security. Latham said price isn't the main concern though. The biggest worry is the behavior of the people attending.

"Be on their best behavior," Latham said. "Let's all cooperate together so we can celebrate and not turn it into a drunk fest and a firework show. We want it to be a true patriotic celebration."

The mayor said this July celebration will serve as a test of what's to come.

"I want to emphasize this year is really going to be kind of a prototype," he said. "We're going to try again, and it's not a guarantee it's going to happen every year."

The City Council also approved a family-friendly Fourth of July celebration to take place before the fireworks at the Seawalk Pavilion from 4-9 p.m.

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