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Murrells Inlet: Parade hopes weather cooperates with time and tide

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Organizers of the Murrells Inlet Fourth of July Boat Parade had their eyes on the tides when they scheduled this year’s event for July 2. Now they are watching the skies.

“The easiest job this time of year is to be a weather forecaster,” said Lee Hewitt, who chairs the parade committee. “There’s always a 40 percent chance of afternoon thunderstorms.”

Saturday’s parade is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. from Garden City Point. The National Weather Service has the chance of thunderstorms at 30 percent.

“I don’t know what to do in that situation,” Hewitt said. He hopes the sea breeze will keep any storms off the inlet until the parade passes. “Most of the storms happen after that,” he said.

The committee doesn’t have a way of notifying participants or spectators of weather-related issues or a cancellation. If there is a cancellation, the parade won’t be rescheduled, Hewitt said.

The parade moved to July 2 in order to allow boats to get through the creeks on high tide. It’s the first time the parade has ever moved from July 4 in its 33-year history. “All the responses I’ve had have been positive,” Hewitt said.

Every year he gets questions from people, usually not boaters, about the changing time of the parade. He explains the tide cycles to them. This year’s high tide is around 8 p.m. That will allow the boats to make the trip down the main channel, around the Marsh Walk and down Parsonage Creek to Morse Park Landing and get home before dark. As for the weather, “you just have to trust people to keep an eye on the sky,” Hewitt said.

Another safety issue is water, the kind that flows from hoses and squirt guns and fills balloons. “We ask that they don’t throw water balloons and don’t use anything that projects water,” Hewitt said. The state Department of Natural Resources, which issues the permit for the parade, will disqualify boats that don’t comply. “It’s dangerous and leaves trash in the inlet,” he said.

DNR will also close the Murrells Inlet Boat Landing for launches at 4 p.m. and reopen it an hour after the parade ends to allow spectators access. Other popular viewpoints are along the Marsh Walk, the seawall at Belin Methodist Church and the Jetty View next to Morse Park.

Murrells Inlet’s fireworks show, sponsored by the Marsh Walk restaurants, is still scheduled for July 4. It begins at 10 p.m. and will last 20 minutes.

The Murrells Inlet 2020 revitalization group is sponsoring a trash clean up July 5. Volunteers will gather debris from the parade and the fireworks. It starts at 3 p.m., just before the low tide.

Hewitt has already checked the tides for 2017. “We’ll be able to go back to July 4,” he said. “In 33 years when this happens again somebody else will be running the parade.”

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