Thousands brave Fourth of July heat

Crowds gather at Riverfront Park for the Fourth of July celebrations on Monday.

The Lowcountry’s most popular attractions for July 4th — before the sun set and the crowds started looking to the sky for fireworks — were shade and water.

A sea of blue umbrellas covered the sands of Folly Beach near the pier Monday afternoon for those who went to the ocean for a little relief.

Those who arrived early for the festivities at North Charleston’s Riverfront Park headed for the big oak trees along the Cooper River or set up canopies in the grass. An occasional breeze off the river provided some relief.

The city staff put out silver buckets of colored chalk along the curved concrete wall that runs through the middle of the park. People stopped to write messages such as “Happy Birthday, America.”

Kathy Kirkland of Summerville drew a colorful American flag, water bottles in her backpack to help her survive the heat. She said she was celebrating her stepfather’s retirement from the Air Force in one piece.

No heat records were broken Monday, but the high humidity made it feel like it. The mercury climbed to 95 at the Charleston International Airport just before 3 p.m., and the heat index was a sweltering 109, according to the National Weather Service.

The outlook for the rest of the week is not much better. The weather service is predicting highs in the mid- to upper-90s through at least Friday, with high humidity and a slight chance of rain each day.

The crowds at Riverfront Park and Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant were briefly scattered by a sudden thunderstorm around 7:15 p.m. Both places were evacuated for about half an hour and then everybody let back in for the fireworks.

Several other celebrations were also held around the Lowcountry on Monday, including fireworks at Gahagan Park in Summerville and the Goose Creek municipal center.

Sullivan’s Island got a head start and held their show Saturday night.

Reach Dave Munday at 843-937-5553.