SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - We’re only a few days away from the Fourth of July holiday, and from the always stunning fireworks exploding over the Savannah River.
The Fourth of July festivities will kick off around 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon. Organizers say they want to celebrate our country’s birthday with some family-friendly fun. People can expect food vendors, games, live entertainment, arts and crafts, free face painting for the kids and more.
If you’re parking at a meter, you won’t have to pay on Thursday. The city also isn’t enforcing any parking time zones.
The free DOT shuttle is running on Thursday, so you can park a little farther away and ride into downtown. It will stop running at 9 on Thursday night.
City garages have a flat fee of $15 if you pay cash and $10 if you use a credit card to park for the entire day.
If you park in a garage, here are some things to remember.
“There’s no viewing fireworks from any of the city garages," said Kirra Fields, a department analyst with the Savannah Mobility and Parking Services. "There is no tailgating in the garages. If you do park in the garage, or wherever you park, just take one or two photos of where you are, so that in the event you lose your car, you can find it by looking at your phone.”
Several of the parking lots on River Street will be available for parking. However, keep in mind, the Savannah Waterfront Association says Savannah Police are planning to block off River Street Thursday around 6:30 p.m.
A lot of the entertainment will be taking place in Rousakis Plaza as people wait for the main event, which is the fireworks show.
“We’re going to have a great firework show. Falcon Fireworks does an amazing job - they always have. We’ll have a lot of family-friendly events going on,” says Victoria Smith, Executive Director of the Savannah Waterfront Association.
Officers want to make sure you are careful wherever you plan to be walking or driving downtown. They’ll be increasing traffic and foot patrols in the downtown area and in City Market.
They ask that you pay attention and be patient as they work to handle lots of extra traffic. Savannah Police says they’re working with the city’s Traffic Engineering Department to time traffic lights. They say this is a family event, and they want to be sure everyone stays safe.
“We encourage everyone to take photos of their children for missing children instances. Do not leave your child unattended. We will be enforcing juvenile curfew law, which starts at 11 p.m., so if the child or anyone under the age of 16 is unaccompanied by an adult, we will contact their parents and make them leave the area.," said Sgt. Dana Purvis, Special Events Coordinator, Savannah PD.
Purvis also says it’s not only dangerous, but also illegal to shoot guns into the air at any kind of celebration. Officials are also stressing that you use fireworks properly.
“Only shoot fireworks outdoors. I can’t stress that enough. Outdoors. Don’t try to make homemade fireworks. Just go buy them. There are stands. Homemade fireworks, they’re illegal and they’re very dangerous," said Fred Anderson, Chief Investigator, Savannah Fire Rescue.
Chief Anderson says things like reading the directions on the box, lighting one firework at a time, and not drinking when you light them can help avoid accidents.
Doctors at Memorial Health say they see an uptick in emergency room visits during the Fourth of July, often sparked by fireworks.
“We see a lot of hand injuries, a lot of facial and head trauma as well. They can get very serious, unfortunately, because a serious burn injury or an explosion can cause result in serious damage. So yes, it can be anything from a minor sparkler burn to something much more serious if there’s an explosion," said Dr. Sanjay Iyer, Emergency Medicine Physician, Memorial Health.
Dr. Iyer says it's also important to keep kids away from them.
“We always, always recommend that only adults are involved in that process, that the appropriate precautions are being taken; protective eye wear, making sure your hands, feet, making sure everybody’s the safe distance from the fireworks," he said.
Chief Anderson also says you need to think about where they’ll land.
"These rockets that project into the air - know where they’re going to come down, because that’s a huge problem with the rockets. They go up and they may not come right back down in your immediate area, so make sure you have a clearing so you know where they’re going to land.”
Fireworks must stop by 11:59 Thursday night. Savannah Police will start enforcing the city noise ordinance at midnight.
For a list of local Fourth of July events, click here.