This year, the county will pay for only one Fourth of July fireworks display.
From Patriots Park to out at the lake, the skies over Columbia County will be filled with colorful star bursts on July 4.
But because of a change in the county's funding of fireworks program, this could be the last year for one private marina's lake-side show.
The county has allocated $11,000 for county-sponsored fireworks events - $4,000 for Memorial Day's Red, White and Blue celebration, $2,500 for July 4 at Patriots Park and $4,500 for a new event on Labor Day to be held this September at Thurmond Lake.
This will be the first year the county's change in its fireworks policy takes effect.
In the past, the county gave $2,500 to private marinas on the lake to help them hold displays near the Lake Springs and Little River areas.
But discussions about county oversight of the money and contributing to admission-based events prompted officials to withdraw the allocations for the marinas.
"We felt that if it was Columbia County funds, we should use the funds," said Barry Smith, the county's director of community and leisure services.
Instead, the county will concentrate its money at its annual and free Independence Day event at Patriots Park. The $2,500 funding will be supplemented with $10,000 from the county's Recreation Advisory Board, which is now collecting $5 from each person who registers in athletic programs.
Even without the county's money, the Little River Marina will hold its nighttime pyrotechnics this year on July 3 - but only because it was too late to change plans, said Mike Snider, a manager at the marina.
"We've already told so many people that we're having them," he said. "So, we're just going to foot the bill on whole thing. Then next year, we're not going to have them."
County officials are planning to introduce a new way to bring their fireworks displays to Wildwood Park on the lake at the end of the summer.
"That's a new event, Labor Day Lakefest, and we're actually in the early stages of organization now," Smith said, adding that all the activities have not yet been finalized but could include bands, windsurfing or water ski demonstrations and the nighttime sky show. "The Labor Day event, I think, is going to be fun because it's something new and at a time of the year where we really haven't had an event."
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