Organizers tone down Carolina Day anniversary

This scene from last year’s Carolina Day parade won’t be repeated Saturday as organizers have toned down the anniversary event in the wake of the shooting at Emanuel AME Church.

The shooting at Emanuel AME Church has prompted Lowcountry historians to change the tone of Saturday’s Carolina Day observation.

The Palmetto Society and S.C. Historical Society said they felt it was appropriate to strike a more somber note this year while commemorating the June 28, 1776, battle at Sullivan’s Island.

Instead of a parade at White Point Garden, they will mark the anniversary with a 10 a.m. service and keynote address inside St. Michael’s Church.

The anniversary comes one day after the funeral service for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME Church and one of the nine victims shot to death there last Wednesday.

Carolina Day is normally an upbeat affair, marking the anniversary of Charleston patriots’ defeat of the Royal Navy and British Army. The battle — which took place exactly a week before the Declaration of Independence was signed — kept Charleston out of British hands for the first five years of the Revolutionary War.

“In light of the recent tragedy in Charleston, the Palmetto Society and the South Carolina Historical Society have decided to commemorate Carolina Day in a different manner this year,” said a joint statement from Charles Waring of the Palmetto Society and Faye Jensen of the S.C. Historical Society.

The first Carolina Day was celebrated in 1777, and the Palmetto Society and the South Carolina Historical Society continue the commemoration today.

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.