Panama City Beach July 4th Celebration Locations

July 4th is this Wednesday and in celebration of our country’s independence, there are a variety of fireworks displays to enjoy along the beaches of Panama City Beach.  Every year we’ve watched our local celebration grow as Pier Park has opened and more and more people flock to our beaches to commemorate the independence of our country.  And beginning last year, the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau responded to the public’s request and sponsored fireworks displays at three different areas along our beaches: Russell Fields Pier (at Pier Park), M.B. Miller Pier (County Pier) and Grand Lagoon.

Fireworks Display Locations and Event Schedule

This year, the fireworks display will be at three different locations, simultaneously.

Along with the fireworks display, there is always a huge celebration at Pier Park.

Schedule

9:00 a.m. Veterans Celebration at the Veteran’s Memorial Park (adjacent to Aaron Bessant Park) Chairs will be provided for Vets and Families for the Morning Service.

7:30 p.m. POPS Performance in Aaron Bessant Park  — Bring your chairs, blankets and all the children.

9:00 p.m. Three Fireworks Shows all along the Gulf.  — City Pier, County Pier and Grand Lagoon.

History of Independence Day

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the national day of the United States.

More information in Independence Day.

Weekend Events – Clint Black at Taste of the Bay

This weekend is going to be one of the best weekends in Panama City Beach. Clint Black will be playing a free concert at Taste of the Bay. Wine and food lovers will be coming to Pier Park to partake in Taste of the Bay. Triathletes from all over will be participating in the Ironman Triathlon this weekend. And for the local philanthropist there is a comedy show supporting Making Strides Against Breast Cancer at Kaleidoscope Theatre. Continue reading “Weekend Events – Clint Black at Taste of the Bay”

New Pier Big Time Successful, Amenities Under Construction

Every since the new Dan Russell Pier opened at the beginning of July in Panama City Beach, anglers and spectators alike have flocked down the double fly-away plank path to the end to enjoy being 1500 feet into the Gulf of Mexico.  Under construction for a little more than 12 months, the City Pier (as it is known to some) cost around $8 million and was funded by a FEMA grant that was awarded after it was irreparably damaged during a hurricane a few years ago.

Hit the read more link for pictures and video of the ongoing construction and numbers on how many people have been on the pier.

Continue reading “New Pier Big Time Successful, Amenities Under Construction”

VIDEO: PCB Gets A Main Attraction Back Better Than Ever

Right about now all Panama City Beach residents should shout, “Finally!” then collectively sigh. By the 4th of July, Panama City Beach will have the long-awaited Dan Russell Pier re-construction completed, its platform opened, designed to be light-years better and safer than its predecessor.

For those who don’t know much about the new city pier, here is a quick recap: The 8 million dollar structure (the cost for both the county and city piers) was funded by Fema after the previous pier was severely damaged in a hurricane. Designed by Baskerville Donovan, the city pier will extend out over the gulf a lengthy 1500 feet, 29 feet longer than the old pier. The pier stands 8 feet higher than its predecessor and wider at 17 feet. A super-structure, the pier is built to withstand hurricanes of all kinds. Six hundred pound bolted blowout panels line the platform that, when met with storm surge and winds, relieve the pressure on the structure by releasing the panels to safely drift onshore to later be reset. The previous structure also had a T shape at its head. Baskerville Donovan designed the new pier with a much larger head shaped in a rectangle. The rectangular area has a dual purpose of form and function as it accommodates more gazers and fishermen while providing additional protection during storm surge. What may be surprising to some, the pier is turtle friendly. Track lighting embedded into the stone frame, runs down the pier from end to end, eliminating the need for canopy lighting.

Along the Front Beach Road, the pier’s best asset won’t be open until the spring. At nearly 300 feet wide, a boardwalk will be added that could make the pier, coupled with Pier Park, Panama City Beach’s new downtown area. This boardwalk, conformed to potential new form-based design regulations will make room for a ticket booth, a 62ft wide restaurant, a tackle and bait store, public bathrooms and a large outdoor area with umbrella seating for those seeking stellar views. This area will, most likely, wear the same beachy-guise as Pier Park seeming to extend the popular mall to the shore.

Parking for the new pier will line along the roadside and additional overflow parking will be across the street just west of Pier Park’s entrance. Costs will be $6.00 for entrance for fishing and $2.00 for individuals. Senior citizens, military and disabled will receive 50% discounts. Year long passes will be sold for $180.00.

The pier reopening will be heralded by a stunning 4th of July fireworks display, the perfect kickoff to welcoming back a pier that’s been sorely missed.

Doggie Doo on the Beach at Pier Park – Move the Doggie Beach

100-feet-past-boundary

As a resident of Panama City beach living directly across the street from the “doggie beach” I have seen numerous infractions of the boundaries, clean up, and leash rules.  The aptly nicknamed “tootsie roll beach” has been true to its name and I and my children have happened upon several “accidents” outside the designated “doggie beach” boundary.  When the dog beach was approved in October 2007 several of my friends and neighbors asked the question “Why this beach?”  We are not opposed to a dog beach per say, we are more concerned as to why the city would tarnish the beach directly in front of our newest and nicest tourist attraction.

Take the Poll

In the larger of the sidebars on the right, directly below the Featured Video a poll has been created.

The question: Do you think the dog beach should be moved from the City Pier at Pier Park to another location?

The city told me they designated the Pier Park beach as the dog beach because it is a “dog friendly” area due to the allowance of dogs in Aaron Bessant Park and along the sidewalk areas of Pier Park.  I believe that dogs in these areas are great.  The City should acknowledge though that Pier Park has its own security guards to enforce proper leashing and clean up compliance.  In Aaron Bessant Park there is a great deal of rule breaking and accidents left behind but my children are not sitting in minimal clothing and digging where the dogs are playing.   On the beach my children are in fact sitting in minimal clothing and digging.  Last fall break  I had  family visiting and we had to scoop up three accidents 200 yards west of the dog beach boundary before allowing my children to play.  In this same area a man took his dog out into the water right next to where my children were wading.  Dogs are known shark attractants and when I politely asked him to move back down to the dog beach he ignored me.

100-yards-past-boundaryAfter complaining to the city about the dog beach infractions I was directed to Stephani Somerset the executive director of Bay Families with Dogs.  She told me to let the perpetrators know of the dog beach boundary as some of them may be unaware.  I wanted her to be right but after approaching two more people about the fact they had their unleashed dogs outside the dog boundary they’re response was, “yes we know where the boundary is”, and proceeded to remain in their seats.  I go to the beach to relax not play police.

In an article in the News Herald on 2/4/09 it was said that “98 percent of dog owners who use the beach pick up after their dogs…”  I would like to say in my experience of being outside of the boundaries of the dog beach the statistic is more like 50 percent.  If dog owners were cleaning up after themselves 98 percent of the time why would the dog beach have to hire a beach butler, which it has since done.  The ironic part is that the beach butler only cleans up after the 400 feet of designated dog beach.  This leaves the accidents outside the dog beach for us to clean up.

dog-feces-100-yards-past-boundary1I would like to state for the record, growing up I owned a dog who I loved dearly and I have many friends with dogs which they adore.  I recognize the importance of raising a happy dog with a life full of exercise and variety but choosing the beach directly in front of our newest and nicest addition to Panama City Beach to provide that “exercise and variety” is not the decision the majority of residents would have agreed to.  As I speak to friends and neighbors, including dog owners, we all feel this was the wrong beach to use as a test site for an unregulated city ordinance.

During a time when we are competing with other panhandle beaches for much needed tourism dollars my question to the city is, “What was the motivation in turning the city’s potentially most active beach into a dog beach?”  .  I don’t see how a dog beach could bring in increased revenue for the improvement of our city.  There are no “Dog” retail shops in Pier Park.   My point is that making THIS beach a dog beach only downgrades the beach without bringing any additional revenue to the area for things such as sidewalks and community upgrades.

Millions of dollars have been used to put retail on the beach to create an atmosphere in which tourists can have beach, dining, and shopping in one trip.  The majority of tourists don’t bring their animals with them.  The idea of lying on the sand that is possibly tainted with the morning’s dog activities is not exactly appealing.  I understand it is a “nice” thing to have for “some” of the residents but my friends with dogs have admitted they would not take their children to the dog beach for fear of what they might dig up.

My request is that the city moves the dog beach away from the Pier Park beach.  Again I am not trying to eliminate the idea of a dog beach.  I am not trying to be unsympathetic or unfair to the dog owners who have respected the dog beach boundaries.  I am trying to say the Pier Park dog beach experiment needs to end.  The majority of dog owners of Panama City Beach have not shown they can govern themselves in this privilege.

County to Charge for Access to New Pier

_mg_0735_2Since apparently I’m all about people having to pay more for stuff, you would think that I would agree with Bay County deciding to charge the same fee as Panama City Beach did (and will in the future) for using the pier – and you would actually be correct.  However, not at first.

I’ll be frank, the only real objection I have to paying a fee at a place like this is because I’m not usually carrying cash.  I don’t remember if they accepted credit cards, but who likes to charge a dollar anyway.  Plus, who wants to pay $6 just to take the wife and kids out to the end of the pier for 10 minutes on the remote chance that we’ll actually see a fish that is radical enough to entertain the kids.  I mean, seriously, $6 for something that I’ve already paid for through being a tax-payer?

_mg_0732_2But, the reality of the situation is that the tax dollars that I’ve put towards (or actually will put towards in the future as I’m sure this was financed through bonds) our new pier(s) is actually going to the construction, not the upkeep.  An article in the paper this morning quoted Mike Thomas as stating that Bay County has never run a pier, they just built M.B. Miller Pier and let it run down.  This brings up an interesting point.

_mg_0763_2Why did I never go to the county pier years ago even though there is tons of space and could be a perfect place for families to hang what with all the setting areas, boardwalks and wide open spaces?   *pause*  Because it was scary.  That’s right, I said it – SCARY.  With the fees, the county would be able to pay for running operating expenses, such as security and pay staff to be onsite.  Now, I know what some of you are thinking – Eliminate the fees and  pay for the running costs with other county fees, just reallocate, adjust budgets in other categories or fire a couple unneeded people.  I know, I know, sounds like a great idea, but you know that the county doesn’t work that way, in fact what municipality does?  You can’t expect government to pay for something NOT directly associated with it.

_mg_0766_2So, with that said, knowing that the money can’t come from anywhere else, I totally agree with the usage fee.  I want both piers to be on an equal playing field and I want to be able to use either one safely.  Do I like paying the fee?  Not really, but it isn’t because I’m always broke, its more of just an inconvenience, but I’ll find a few bucks if I want to go to the pier, as long as there will be tons of other people there enjoying it with their families and not a bunch of punk drunks.

The twin county and city piers, dubbed M.B. Miller and Dan Russell, respectively will be identical, measuring 1.500 feet long.  The cost is a little more than they style pier that was there before, but they are designed to sustain damage in a more efficient way in order to minimize the cost of repair in the future.

The fees for access to the pier are $5 per adult fisherman, $2 per child fisherman and $1 if you just want to watch.