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Fourth of July: Full schedule of events means tough choices

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Time and tide wait for no parade.

So celebrants on the Fourth of July will have to choose between Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet. Floats or boats?

The island’s 49th annual parade moves from its typical 10 a.m. start to 11 a.m. this year. The town made the change to allow vacationers to make the 10 a.m. checkout from their rental houses before the streets fill up with spectators and parade participants.

At Murrells Inlet, the 32nd annual parade will start from Garden City at 10 a.m. That should put the boats at the Marsh Walk, a popular vantage point, around 10:45 a.m. when the tide is high, said Lee Hewitt, who organizes the parade.

The boat parade will wind through the inlet by the Marsh Walk and Crazy Sister Marina and end at Morse Park Landing. There will be prizes for best decorated boats and docks.

Boats that want to be in the judging need to register at Booty’s Outdoors, Garden City Realty or Crazy Sister Marina. The cost is $5. Boats can also register on the water at the committee boat.

The parade’s theme will be “Red, White and Southern.”

July Fourth in the inlet has some extra cachet this time around. Coastal Living magazine voted Murrells Inlet among the nation’s “Top 10 Beach Towns” for July 4.

At Pawleys Island, floats can register at Town Hall today or tommorrow. The cost is $15 and includes a T-shirt. They can also register at the South Causeway, where floats will begin to line up at 10:30 a.m. The cost will be $20.

The parade route heads south to the Birds Nest section before doubling back on Myrtle Avenue and making a loop around the north end. The panel of judges will be positioned at Town Hall.

Winning entries will be flagged down on their way back from the north end to receive trophies from Mayor Bill Otis.

Along with prizes for humor, theme, originality, kids, and best overall, the town has a $250 cash prize for the best musical float.

Tucked between Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet is the North Litchfield children’s parade, which is open to children of all ages. It’s now in its 26th year.

It starts in front of Kitty and Eddie Clay’s home on Hanover Drive at 10 a.m. Most people travel on decorated golf carts, but bikes, scooters, skateboards and walkers are also common. The only restriction is on vehicles with internal-combustion engines.

There are no prizes, but watermelon and lemonade are handed out when the parade returns to the starting line.

The Salute from the Shore flyover will return along with a pair of F-16s from the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base.

This is the sixth year for the salute, started by a couple of Columbia residents vacationing at Litchfield Beach. When budget cuts curtailed the F-16 flights (which are actually training missions), the organizers recruited pilots of vintage military aircraft for the salute. They will be back this year, too.

The planes will start at the North Carolina line at 1 p.m. They will be visible along the Waccamaw Neck beaches at various times according to their speed. The F-16s will make the run from Little River to Hilton Head in 45 minutes.

A pair of free concerts in the early evening will provide a musical prelude to nighttime fireworks.

The Pawleys Island Concert Band performs at a patriotic celebration organized by the Knights of Columbus at Precious Blood of Christ Catholic Church. It starts at 6:15 p.m. inside the Parish Life center.

Also on the program is a salute to the military. Hot dogs and drinks will be sold.

The Indigo Choral Society performs at 7 p.m. on the lawn of the Kaminski House Museum in Georgetown. The program of Americana and patriotic songs includes performance by guest artists and the Island Boys band.

The audience needs to bring its own seating. Picnics are welcome. Fireworks will follow over the Georgetown harbor.

The annual Murrells Inlet fireworks show will begin at 10 p.m. Community members will gather Sunday at 8 a.m. at the Wicked Tuna’s tiki hut to pick up debris from the fireworks show and trash from the inlet.

Renee Williamson, executive director of Murrells Inlet 2020, said Georgetown County Parks and Recreation is putting out extra trash receptacles for the Fourth of July. Restaurant employees will patrol the Marsh Walk to see that trash cans do not overflow. Boaters will be given trash bags as they launch from the ramp beside Belin United Methodist Church.

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