MOUNT PLEASANT — About 2,000 patrons of the Patriots Point Fourth of July fireworks had problems seeing the show because trees blocked their view of the pyrotechnics launched from a Cooper River barge, officials said Thursday.
As a result, Patriots Point said it will take steps to ensure that everyone in attendance has a view of the $20,000 display next year.
A barge was used as a firing platform for the first time this year so Patriots Point could charge $10 per person to about 1,000 people to watch the show from the 60-foot-high Yorktown flight deck.
In years past, the flight deck was the fireworks launching pad.
The people who watched from land at Patriots Point paid $10 per car. About 15,000 people attended the 18th Fourth of July show.
“Probably 40,000 people on both sides of the harbor enjoyed our show this year. A couple of thousand did not, and I will personally chew on that for another 12 months,” Mac Burdette, Patriots Point executive director, said in a statement released Thursday.
“I am in the position of oversight for all of the efforts at Patriots Point and I should have identified the issue of the poor barge placement immediately. I did not. I hope those who were disappointed will give us another chance next year,” Burdette wrote.
“Even though our great employees worked hundreds of hours to make this event special, we all know that we fell short. We fell short not because of a lack of effort, but because of a simple miscalculation,” Burdette wrote.
The barge was positioned upriver just north of the ship near the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. The placement of the barge will be adjusted to prevent a repeat of the problem next year if a barge and not the flight deck is used for the show, said Ashley Smith, public information officer at Patriots Point.
Some of those upset by the situation took to the Patriots Point Facebook page to vent their feelings.
“We couldn’t see the fireworks from over the treetops. When the lights came on most people land side were confused,” wrote Sarah Gohman, who was vacationing from Ohio.
Rachael Nocilo said on Facebook that she returned to her favorite spot for the fireworks.
“All me and my 5-year-old saw for our time, trouble and money was trees with sparkly things behind them!” she posted.
Kristi Watchorn said she had a wonderful time at the fireworks show last year, and returned expecting the same thing. “Nobody sitting land side could see the fireworks behind the trees. I’m assuming only the people who purchased tickets for the flight deck could see the fireworks,” she posted on Facebook.
Bill Haber, 43, of Charleston said in an interview that it was his first time at the fireworks show, which he had heard was spectacular. The event was a big disappointment, Haber said.
“It was totally obstructed by the trees,” he said.
He estimated that more than 1,000 patrons left the show because of the poor view.
Patriots Point posted a statement on the situation at its website.
“Please accept our apologies for your difficulty in viewing the fireworks from the landside locations at Patriots Point,” the state agency said.
Patriots Point said that for the first time it decided to shoot the fireworks from a barge in the Cooper River so it could use the flight deck for viewing, which provided new revenue.
“Several have stated that the barge placement was too far north of Patriots Point toward the bridge. We fully agree,” the statement said.
Regulations governing the channel, currents and tides were factors in the barge placement, it said.