The city of St. Augustine will host its annual fireworks show on July Fourth, an event that typically draws thousands of visitors to the nation's oldest city.
Officials released an event guide and plans for its free park-and-ride shuttle system to help ease congestion downtown on that day.
But if people want to secure a good spot to watch the show, it's best to arrive early.
"Definitely allow for ample time to get down there and get settled," city spokeswoman Melissa Wissel said.
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The All-Star Orchestra will perform a two-hour concert at 6 p.m. in the Plaza de la Constitucion. The free event will feature big band music "and popular tunes with a patriotic flare," according to the city.
Of course, the main event is the 20-minute fireworks show on the Matanzas River near the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument at 1 S. Castillo Drive. The fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m. and will be synchronized with a soundtrack of popular and patriotic music along the city's bayfront between the Castillo de San Marcos and the Bridge of Lions.
If weather or some other issue cancels or postpones the fireworks show, the city will post updates at citystaug.com/fireworks, on the city's Facebook page, and at @CityStAug on Twitter. If no cancellation notice is posted, then the fireworks are still scheduled.
The city produces the show with financial help from the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.
Visitors heading downtown should know that it's illegal to light their own fireworks in the city limits, and carrying open containers of alcohol in public is prohibited, St. Augustine Police Officer Dee Brown said.
Parking in St. Augustine
July Fourth is probably the busiest day in St. Augustine, so driving and parking downtown will prove challenging.
To help, the city is offering free park-and-ride shuttle locations on Anastasia Island with assistance from Ripley's Red Train Tours and Old Town Trolley Tours. Parking and shuttling will be available 6 p.m. to midnight at a few locations on Anastasia Boulevard:
Anastasia Baptist Church at 1650 A1A S.
St. Augustine Amphitheatre at 1340-C A1A S.
R.B. Hunt Elementary School at 125 Magnolia Drive.
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park at 999 Anastasia Blvd. The alligator farm is a parking-only location. People who park there can access the shuttle at the R.B. Hunt Elementary School stop by crossing Anastasia Boulevard at the lighted crosswalk just east of the alligator farm. Law enforcement officers will help people cross the road safely.
Shuttles will drop passengers off at the east end of the Bridge of Lions and pick them up from the same location for the return trip after the fireworks. For a map and other parking and event information, visit citystaug.com/fireworks.
The city doesn't run shuttles downtown because it wouldn't be efficient with the traffic congestion, Wissel said.
People who want to try to find a parking spot downtown should know that parking will be limited, and they should arrive early, according to the city.
There will be no vehicle access from 6 to about 11 p.m. to or from the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument parking lot, and the lot will not be free. Parking charges are enforced from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
The city's Historic Downtown Parking Facility is at 1 Cordova St. and offers parking for $15 per car, per entry, or $3 with the ParkNow Card.
Parking in other city-owned lots and city spaces on-street is free on all federal holidays. Drivers should confirm the spaces belong to the city. Private lots may have cars towed.
St. Augustine police officers and paramedics will be at the site to help ensure the evening goes smoothly, and police help direct traffic after the event, Wissel said.
Brown said people should expect at least an hour wait leaving town.
"We get them out as fast as possible," Brown said.
Fourth of July street closures
Streets will be rerouted starting at 8 p.m. and ending at 11 p.m., with vehicle access prohibited on the Bridge of Lions, Avenida Menendez, Cathedral Place and South Castillo Drive. Other closures:
Picolata Road between U.S. 1 and San Marco Avenue, 8-11 p.m.
San Carlos between U.S. 1 and San Marco Avenue, 8-11 p.m.
King Street will have two westbound lanes and one eastbound lane west of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue from 8-11:30 p.m.
King Street will have one westbound lane and one eastbound lane east of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue up to Avenida Menendez.
There will be no eastbound traffic on West Castillo Drive from U.S. 1 to North Cordova from 8-11:30 p.m.
North Cordova will be closed from Orange Street to the entrance to the Historic Downtown Parking Facility from 8-11 p.m.
After the opening at 8 p.m., the Bridge of Lions won't open for boat traffic until about 11 p.m. Vessels won't be allowed in the area north of the Bridge of Lions to a point in the river about in line with the Castillo de San Marcos. Law enforcement officials will be patrolling on boat.
This article originally appeared on St. Augustine Record: Fourth of July in St. Augustine: Fireworks show on Matanzas River