Planning under way for St. Augustine’s July 4th celebration


Anyone who has attended the annual Fourth of July fireworks show in St. Augustine knows how difficult it can be to get out of town once it’s over.

So Jeff Truncellito, special events coordinator for the St. Augustine Police Department, has a recommendation.

“Stay until 11 o’clock,” he said. “If you walk around the beautiful city, go get a cup of coffee, go walk the bayfront — just check the city out — you will be home at the same time as the person who left (at 9:50 p.m.)”

Truncellito offered his insights into the popular event during a June 11 meeting of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Historic St. Augustine Area Council, held at the Sebastian Hotel.

Every July 4, the narrow streets of the Nation’s Oldest City are packed with an estimated 40,000 people, and there’s no reason to believe 2021 will be any different. That may be especially true due to the cancellation of fireworks in Flagler Beach and World Golf Village, though Jacksonville is planning to go ahead with its show.

The city commission approved the return of Fireworks Over the Matanzas at its March 22 meeting; the pandemic had forced last year’s Independence Day celebration to be suspended.

“It feels good to get back to this tradition that we missed last year due to COVID,” said City Manager John Regan in announcing plans for the event. “We are excited to celebrate!”

Free entertainment will be provided from 6 to 8 p.m. in The Plaza de la Constitución gazebo by The All-Star Orchestra, which will perform Big Band and popular tunes with a patriotic flare.

Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m. The 20-minute display is choreographed to a soundtrack of popular and patriotic music delivered over an extensive sound system, transforming the entire Bayfront between the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and the Bridge of Lions into a theater of sight and sound.

Satellite parking and shuttle service will not be provided this year, which could result in more individual cars entering the city.

Because there will be limited parking throughout the downtown area, visitors are encouraged to arrive early and use city-owned parking lots throughout the downtown area, as well as the Historic Downtown Parking Facility – the parking garage adjacent to the St. Augustine & St. Johns County Visitor Information Center at 1 Cordova St. The cost of parking in the garage is $15 per car, per entry, or $3 with the ParkNow Card.

Drivers parking in a private lot risk being towed at the request of the lot owner. Parking in the Castillo lot is not free and is enforced by the National Park Service between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. There will be no vehicular access to or from that lot on July 4 between 6 and 11 p.m.

With multitudes of pedestrians and increased bicycle traffic, the city asks that those in vehicles take extra precaution and remain patient.

Potentially complicating the traffic situation will be construction on U.S. 1, though no lane closures are anticipated.

Rerouting of traffic will begin at 8 p.m., the same time as the last opening of the Bridge of Lions. Traffic will be prohibited on the bridge, Avenida Menendez, Cathedral Place and South Castillo Drive. Other street closures will also be in force.

Truncellito encouraged visitors to walk to the fireworks if possible, or park somewhere on the west side of U.S. 1 and walk. People generally trickle into the city over the course of the day, but everyone tries to leave at 9:50 p.m.

“I’ve sat there working at the intersection, and you just see a wall of people coming at you,” Truncellito said. “It’s intimidating. They all want to leave at the same time.”

The law enforcement presence is expected to be high, with more than 100 officers present – both in uniform and civilian clothes. Because the city only has a force of 58, it will be assisted by the Sheriff’s Office, St. Augustine Beach police, the Florida Highway Patrol and the National Park Service.

Fireworks Over Matanzas is produced by the city with support funding from the St. Johns County Tourist Development Council.

For further information or updates, or to see a list of other street closures and marine traffic restrictions, go to