By Connie Leinbach
The Ocracoke Occupancy Tax Board will meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 22, in the Community Center to consider the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association’s request for funding fireworks during 2016 weekend.
The OCBA in a special meeting Dec. 14 voted to approve having fireworks Sunday night July 3 after learning about a new, less expensive proposal presented by Darlene Styron, Teresa O’Neal and Sundae Horn, OCBA travel and tourism director. The proposal has support from the National Park Service and the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department.
After consulting with Pyrotecnico of Columbia, SC, the same company the OCBA has worked with in the last year, the group came up with a proposal to launch fireworks at the end of the NPS base parking lot in the grassy area beside the public boat launch area in the village.
According to Horn, Cape Hatteras National Seashore Superintendent David E. Hallac and his staff were eager to help find a suitable location for fireworks.
“We look forward to partnering with the community on Ocracoke Island to celebrate the July 4th holiday in 2016,” Hallac wrote in an email about their support. “Given that 2016 is the Centennial of the National Park Service–our 100th Anniversary–this is the perfect time to strengthen our relationship with community members and visitors and provide for a safe and exciting celebration.”
The fireworks show would cost $20,000, and the shells would go no higher than 500 feet, which is three times the height of the Ocracoke water tower.
A safety circle of at least 500 feet must be maintained around the launch site, which means that houses/buildings within that circle would have to be vacated during the show. Those buildings include the OPS Museum, NPS housing and maintenance area, DOT Ferry Division ticket kiosk and overnight housing.
Along with clearing out everything in the NPS parking lot, the NPS boat ramp would have to be shut down during the show, possibly before that depending on the final determination of the launch site.
The County of Hyde agreed a few months ago to be the insurance certificate holder and the payment conduit. The OCBA will be the facilitating organization.
If the Occupancy Tax Board approves this request, the Hyde County commissioners also must approve it.